On Monday, June 29, the Supreme Court held that EPA violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) when it determined that regulation of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from certain power plants was “appropriate and necessary” without consideration of costs.  Michigan v. EPA, No. 14-45 (June 29, 2015).  The decision overturned a contrary decision from the D.C. Circuit (See this VNF Climate Air & Energy Update) and raises questions about the fate of the Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) Rule for power plants. The Michigan v. EPA Decision The Michigan opinion, authored by Justice Scalia on behalf of a five-Justice majority, concluded that EPA’s threshold decision—that regulation of HAPs emitted by fossil-fueled electric generating units (EGUs)... READ MORE
By Mona Tandon, Emily Pitlick, and Jamond Perry The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Division of Audits and Accounting (DAA), Office of Enforcement, completed audits of Colonial Pipeline Company (Colonial) and Enterprise Product Partners L.P. (Enterprise) on June 17, 2015.  The audits, which were initiated on February 6, 2014, took nearly a year and a half to complete.  Both audits focused on each of the pipeline’s compliance with FERC regulations for oil pipeline companies, with particular focus on their compliance with accounting and financial reporting regulations.  The reports are significant because they represent the first time FERC Staff has conducted a comprehensive review of interstate oil and products pipelines’ regulatory... READ MORE
The Washington State Legislature started their second special session on May 29, after lawmakers failed to reach agreement on the state’s $38 billion biennial budget.  As of publication, budget negotiators had agreed on the size of the overall budget and were having daily meetings in the Governor’s office, but had not reached a final deal.  If the legislature can’t agree on a budget by June 30, the end of the fiscal year, the state government faces a partial shutdown.  The “upside” is that thanks to similar brinksmanship in 2013, agencies are better prepared and have already submitted updated contingency plans to the governor’s office. Slim majorities in both chambers (Democrats in the House, Republicans in the Senate) and a hefty legislative... READ MORE
Major increases in domestic oil and gas production, combined with declining domestic markets for coal, have dramatically altered the debate over America's energy future. The debate over "energy independence" has been augmented--if not supplanted--by debates over climate change policy and whether we should export fossil fuels. The Pacific Northwest--known for hydropower--has become a focal point in the clash over fossil fuels. Pacific Northwest ports are being proposed as hubs for exporting Powder River Basin coal to markets in Asia and two proposals to export LNG from sites in Oregon have generated significant public controversy. In the midst of the ongoing arguments over those proposals, a new concern has emerged: the transportation of oil by... READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman's Rich Bonnifield will speak at the American Gas Association's 2015 Legal Forum, sponsored by Van Ness Feldman.  Rich will discuss the market changes shifting FERC policies and priorities and the issues counsel must address. The AGA Legal Forum is an intensive two-day conference that gives participants the unique opportunity for peer to peer discussions of gas industry issues with other member company general counsel and senior attorneys. The 2015 Annual Legal Forum will focus on the impact of the changes taking place in the industry and the legal challenges facing you and your clients. The Forum will feature presentations and panel discussions on topics of vital interest to natural gas industry attorneys.  For more information on... READ MORE
Mike Swiger, head of Van Ness Feldman's hydropower practice, will be a featured panelist at this year's HydroVision International conference, the largest gathering of hydro professionals worldwide, will take place in Portland, OR from July 13-17. Mike will be discussing issues related to Canada/U.S. cross-border issues. The conference, featuring speakers in 8 special tracks and 3,000 attendees, will provide Opportunities for building alliances among hydro professionals and water resource stakeholders; Sharing of knowledge, expertise and viewpoints toward effective solutions; The most comprehensive collection of hydro-related product and service providers on the exhibit floor; and Collaboration on promoting technology... READ MORE
For the fourth year in a row, The Legal 500 United States, 2015, recognized Van Ness Feldman as a national leader in Energy Regulatory law.  The firm is again one of only two, “Top Tier” Energy Regulatory law firms to be recognized in the US.       Highlighting the firm’s work in the electric, hydroelectric, and gas areas, the publication describes Van Ness Feldman as “creative and delivers better-reasoned and written product than most other firms in the market” and having “politically savvy and strategically astute lawyers.” The firm was also recognized among the top firms in the Environment: Transaction & Regulatory area for a fourth time, citing  the firm as being “experienced in GHG, ESA, CWA, NEPA and CAA issues and having a large climate... READ MORE
Ed Gehres, Coordinator of Van Ness Feldman’s Native Affairs practice, has been named to the Law360’s Native American Editorial Board for 2015.  Law 360 is circulated to over 400,000 recipients each day including lawyers, business leaders, and the entire U.S. federal judiciary. The purpose of the editorial advisory board is to provide feedback on Law360's coverage and to gain insight from experts in the field on how best to shape future coverage.  READ MORE
Washington, DC – The American Gas Association (AGA) and Van Ness Feldman LLP today announced the release of the 2015-2016  Edition of The AGA FERC Manual—A Guide for Local Distribution Companies.  Since the enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, in which Congress gave the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) powerful enforcement authority, local distribution companies (LDCs) have made compliance with FERC regulations a particular focus of attention. To assist its members in understanding and addressing these compliance obligations, AGA commissioned this important manual. The 2015-2016 Edition of the AGA FERC Manual is an authoritative source of information about FERC’s governing statutes, as well as the rules that affect LDCs and... READ MORE