Several climate policy initiatives are underway in the Washington State legislature, agencies, and courts.  This alert summarizes these key developments—future alerts will provide greater detail and topical analysis. If you have an interest in Washington State climate policy and litigation developments, please sign up here to receive future alerts on these topics.  1.  Legislative and Ballot Initiatives. In November of 2016, voters rejected a state carbon tax.  Initiative 732, the Washington Carbon Emission Tax and Sales Tax Reduction, would have established a tax that started at $15/metric ton of carbon dioxide and increased over time.  Following the defeat of I-732, Governor Inslee introduced his 2017-2019 budget, which includes a $25/ton... READ MORE
The outlook for comprehensive tax reform legislation has changed dramatically with the Trump Administration and Republican control of the 115th Congress.  During the campaign and since the election, both President Trump and Republican Congressional leaders have made it clear that comprehensive tax reform to significantly lower individual and business tax rates is one of their top priorities.  The Republican leadership intends to move very quickly on tax reform: Speaker Ryan and President Trump have said they would like to have tax reform completed before the August 2017 recess.  In spite of that goal, it is very likely Congress will not be able to complete the legislation until late 2017 or early 2018, which provides an opportunity for interested... READ MORE
On February 28, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order directing the review and reconsideration of the final rule re-defining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), commonly called the “WOTUS Rule.”  The WOTUS Rule was issued during President Obama’s tenure on May 27, 2015, by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”) (collectively the “Agencies”). The WOTUS Rule has far-reaching implications for project development and operations across the energy, water, construction, building, agricultural and transportation sectors.  Most prominently, the WOTUS Rule adopted an expansive view of the types of wetlands and other waterbodies to be considered “waters of the United States,” triggering the need for... READ MORE
“Development of Washington’s shorelines triggers overlapping and sometimes inconsistent local, state and federal regulations, as well as tribal treaty rights. Proponents of small private projects as well as large public facility projects in shoreline environments can be affected equally by these layers of regulation. Meanwhile, regulators and treaty tribes are tasked with balancing the many legitimate uses of the state’s shorelines and their abundant natural resources." Van Ness Feldman's Tadas Kisielius is speaking on, "Recent Developments in Port Management." Click here for more information. READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman is proud to participate in the 2017 EBA Annual Meeting and Conference.  The 2-day event provides discussion focused on legal issues related to all aspects of energy law.  Van Ness Feldman partners Mona Tandon and Michael Pincus will be presenting at this year's event.  Mona Tandon is speaking in a session entitled, "The Changing Industry and FERC Landscape for Oil Pipelines and Shippers," and Michael Pincus is moderating a session on, "Pipeline Development and the Struggle Between Local, State, and Federal Regulations." Click for more information and to register. READ MORE
Emily Pitlick Mallen, a partner in the firm's Pipeline & LNG practice, will be a featured speaker at the ABA's Section of Environment, Energy and Resources 46th Spring Conference.   Emily's presentation, entitled, "An Evolving Environmental Battleground: FERC Pipeline Certificate Proceedings and New Disputes over 'Public Convenience and Necessity'” will focus on the changing regulatory landscape affecting pipeline certificate proceedings and the role that FERC plays.     From the ABA website:  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) plays a significant, but previously little publicized, role in the environmental review and permitting of energy projects.  With the rapid expansion of natural gas development in the U.S., FERC’s role in siting... READ MORE
Maranda Compton,a member of the firm's Native Affairs practice group was quoted in the Washington Post today in an article entitled, How the Army Corps of Engineers wound up in the middle of the fight over the Dakota Access pipeline. READ MORE
Shannon Angielski, a Principal in the firm’s Government Relations practice and the Executive Director of CURC, announced today that CURC has expanded the scope of their mission and has adopted the new name  as the Carbon Utilization Research Council.  READ MORE
As we look forward to the possibilities a New Year brings, we pause to give thanks to our clients, former colleagues, and friends who have formed our professional family over the past 40 years.   READ MORE
FERC FERC Approves Retirement of WECC Regional Standard on System Operating Limits - March 10 - FERC approved a joint petition of NERC and the Western Electricity Coordination Council (WECC) to retire regional Reliability Standard TOP-007-WECC-1a (System Operating Limits).  The retirement would shift away from the path-centric model and allow entities in the Western Interconnection to align their operating practices with framework established in the continent-wide TOP/IRO Reliability Standards approved in Order No. 817. FERC Requests Data in Response to Proposed Standard Revisions - March 7 - FERC issued a data request  to NERC relating to its petition for approval of revised Reliability Standards BAL-005-1 (Balancing Authority Control) and... READ MORE
Court of Appeals Confirms When LUPA’s 21-Day Appeal Period Begins to Run and When “Collateral Attacks” on Prior Unchallenged Land Use Decisions Are Barred Duncan Greene On December 27, 2016, Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals issued Chumbley et al. v. Snohomish County et al, which further clarified when local land use decisions are considered “issued,” triggering the 21-day statute of limitations for appeals under the Land Use Petition Act (LUPA), Chapter 36.70C RCW. The Chumbley decision also clarified the scope of prior court holdings that prohibit so-called “collateral attacks” on land use decisions that are not directly challenged within LUPA’s 21-day appeal period. Click here to read the full article. IN BRIEF Army Corps... READ MORE
Bull Trout ESA Case Dismissed; Reinitiation of Consultation Moots ESA Section 7(a)(2) Claims On February 23, 2017, in Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the United States District Court for the District of Oregon ruled that claims for procedural violations of Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) against a federal action agency are moot when the action agency reinitiates consultation.  Previously, Ninth Circuit case law did not provide a clear answer whether reinitiation of consultation, by itself, is sufficient to moot a Section 7(a)(2) claim.  The district court’s opinion is significant because it signals that agencies can avoid liability for procedural violations of Section 7(a)(2) by reinitiating... READ MORE