On July 14, 2016, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) unveiled a new policy governing supplemental financial assurance for oil and gas infrastructure on the Outer Continental Shelf (“OCS”).  The new policy, issued as Notice to Lessees 2016-N01 (“NTL 2016-N01”), will fundamentally change the way that BOEM calculates financial strength and reliability of OCS lessees and operators and will require individual lessees and operators to allocate far more capital than previously required to cover future potential decommissioning obligations.  NTL 2016-N01 rescinds and supersedes BOEM’s prior supplemental bonding policy—NTL 2008-N07—and becomes effective September 12, 2016. Once NTL 2016-N01 goes into effect, the new policy has the potential to... READ MORE
This alert was first published on Law360.com.  Reposted with permission. A single sheet of paper issued recently by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians gave rise to a collective sigh of relief among federally recognized Native American tribes. The court’s 4-4 tie affirmed the ruling in favor of tribal courts by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The tie vote ended months of speculation. If tribes and their allies wish to avoid a similar challenge in the future, the result in this case should set off a flurry of advocacy and institution building to protect tribal court powers. Many modern Native American nations boast sophisticated governments, court systems... READ MORE
On July 1, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit or court) issued a decision that could have sweeping rate implications across the entire interstate pipeline industry.  United Airlines, Inc. v. FERC (United Airlines) calls into question a decade of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) policy and precedent permitting regulated companies organized as pass-through entities for income tax purposes to include an allowance for income taxes in their rates.  The court found that FERC had acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it permitted SFPP, L.P. (SFPP), an interstate petroleum products pipeline, to include an income tax allowance in its rates.  The court agreed with SFPP’s shippers that FERC failed to... READ MORE
By showcasing the latest developments and operational experience with pollution controls from fossil-fired power plants in light of the evolving environmental regulatory directions, the eleventh MEGA Symposium will update seasoned professionals and provide an excellent learning experience for early career engineers. Van Ness Feldman's Shannon Angielski will be presenting on, "The Role for Coal Research in Today's and Tomorrow's Electric Generation Environment." Click here for more information. READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman's Richard Agnew and Chuck Sensiba are participating in panel discussions at this year's Western Water Seminar. Click here for more information. READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman's Malcolm McLellan will be providing a national update on North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) standards and enforcement trends in a section entitled, "The RPS and Reliability." Click here for more information. READ MORE
It is with great pride that we introduce this year's summer class: Sophia Amberson Sophia just completed her second year at the University of Washington School of Law where she is an Associate Editor-in-Chief of the Washington Law Review, President of the Environmental Law Society, Vice President of the Native American Law Student Association, and an executive board member of the Moot Court Honor Board.  Prior to law school, Sophia received both her M.M.A and B.A. in Marine and Environmental Affairs & Policy from the University of Washington and the University of Miami respectively.  Last summer, Sophia interned in the D.C. office of the U.S. Coast Guard, where she worked with the Office of International and Maritime Law on environmental law... READ MORE
President Obama Signs the PIPES Act of 2016 On June 22, the President signed the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016 reauthorizing funding for federal pipeline safety programs through fiscal year 2019.  Provisions of note include authorizing the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to issue industry-wide emergency orders to address “imminent hazards” and requiring that PHMSA issue minimum safety standards for underground natural gas storage.  PHMSA also is required to publically post updates every 90 days on the status of statutorily required final rules that have not been published, study and report to Congress on measures to improve damage prevention, and report to Congress... READ MORE
FERC FERC Clarifies Effective and Compliance Dates for Access to NERC Databases - July 7 – FERC issued an order clarifying the effective date and compliance date for Order No. 824, requiring NERC to provide FERC with access to certain NERC databases.  To conform with Federal Register guidelines, FERC clarified that the rule will become effective upon publication in the Federal Register, and the compliance date will be based on issuance of the final rule in Docket No. RM16-15-000. FERC Clarifies Peak Reliability’s Ability to Access Gas Pipeline Data - July 1 - FERC issued on order granting Peak Reliability ‘s( Peak’s) request for clarification that Order No. 787 does not prohibit interstate natural gas pipelines from sharing non-public operational... READ MORE
FERC Denies New Project License Application on Environmental Grounds On June 16, 2016, FERC denied an application for a 10 MW project to be located on the Bear River in Idaho.  The project would have occupied 89 acres of federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  The proposed project dam would have been located five miles below the lowermost dam (Oneida) of the upstream Bear River Project, licensed to PacifiCorp.  The proposed project would have inundated approximately two miles of land within the Bear River Project boundary downstream of Oneida Dam which was included in the Bear River Project boundary to protect and improve recreation resources.  This includes three recreation areas and whitewater boating areas, conservation... READ MORE