On Friday, September 23, the Department of the Interior (Interior), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), in conjunction with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of  the Army (Army), released a “Dear Tribal Leader” letter (Letter) that initiated a government-to-government consultation seeking “Tribal Input on Federal Infrastructure Decisions.”  The consultations will begin October 11, 2016 and proceed along an extraordinarily compressed schedule, with a total of seven sessions completed by November 21, 2016, all in cities in the western U.S., and one by teleconference.  The Letter invites representatives of 562 federally-recognized tribes to participate in the consultation sessions, and refers to the consultation schedule as appropriately... READ MORE
Introduction On September 26, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA” or “Agency”) finalized a rule, Treatment of Indian Tribes in a Similar Manner as States for Purposes of Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act (“Final Rule”), which authorizes tribes to administer the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) section 303(d) program within their reservations.  The 303(d) program requires states (and now possibly tribes) to identify lists of impaired waters (“Impaired Waters”) within their jurisdiction and subsequently to create Total Maximum Daily Loads (“TMDLs”) for those waters.  TMDLs represent the total amount of pollution Impaired Waters can withstand and still remain in compliance with other EPA CWA programs.  The Final Rule affords qualifying tribes... READ MORE
A dramatic and surprising turn of events on Friday, September 9, 2016 created significant uncertainty for the Dakota Access Pipeline Project (Dakota Access), and may have shifted the landscape for other infrastructure projects involving National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) Section 106 tribal consultations.  On Friday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg issued a 58-page Memorandum Opinion (Opinion) denying the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s motion for preliminary injunction filed against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).  That motion challenged whether the Corps complied with NHPA Section 106 consultation requirements in connection with a July 25, 2016 verification letter permitting  Dakota Access to engage in certain... READ MORE
Michael Pincus and Bryn Karaus will both be featured speakers at EBA's upcoming Primer: An Introduction to Federal Regulation of the Natural Gas Industry.  The goal of the primer  is to provide an overview of the federal regulation of the natural gas industry by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Mike will lead a session on constructing and abandoning pipelines under the Natural Gas Act and Bryn will be speaking on pipeline safety regulation. For more information and to register, please visit EBA's website. READ MORE
Jay Derr will be presenting “Energy on the Columbia River” at The Mighty Columbia Conference, Friday, Oct 28th in Seattle, WA. The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest, and the 4th largest river in the United States. It drains an area the size of France, and extends into seven states and British Columbia. The River serves as critical habitat for 13 ESA-listed species of salmon and steelhead, and is of paramount importance to Native cultures, serving as a bountiful source of tribal subsistence. The River is also home to 14 Federal hydroelectric dams on the mainstem, providing 44% of hydropower consumed in the U.S. It is of critical importance to navigation interests, providing a navigable highway for the transportation of... READ MORE
District Energy systems share energy sources between communities and can reduce carbon footprint, add reliability, and improve sustainability. As an innovative and progressive city, we have been internationally recognized for our sustainability initiatives, but much work is yet to be done. What is keeping us from sharing and conserving energy, reducing carbon footprints, and revolutionizing how much we pay to heat, cool, and power our downtown core and neighborhoods? Van Ness Feldman's Malcolm McLellan is a panelist at this event. Click here for more information. READ MORE
Charles Curtis , Van Ness Feldman Co-Founder and former Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), was recently interviewed by FERC’s Mary O’Driscoll on the history and creation of FERC.  Mr. Curtis served as the first Chairman of FERC from 1977 to 1981 and was later Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy before taking on his current role as Vice Chairman of the U.S. Department of State’s International Security Advisory Board. The podcast, entitled, “Charles Curtis:  Forty Years of FERC” is available for listening here.  A transcript of the podcast can also be read here. READ MORE
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Van Ness Feldman LLP is pleased to announce that Michael D. Farber, a former senior official from the U.S. Department of the Interior, has joined the firm as a partner, specializing in strategic advice, investigations, and litigation.  Mr. Farber brings twenty years of experience rapidly assessing, investigating, and resolving compliance issues across a wide variety of industries. As a partner with Van Ness Feldman,  Mr. Farber will collaborate across multiple practice areas, with a special focus on investigation-related matters, as well as regulatory and oversight matters and litigation, particularly those in the oil, gas, and natural resources sectors. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Farber served as the Senior Advisor to the... READ MORE
Doug Smith, Coordinator of Van Ness Feldman's electric practice, testified at the U.S.House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Power's recent hearing entitled,  “Federal Power Act: Historical Perspectives.” The hearing explored the evolution of the Federal Power Act, with special emphasis on electricity markets over the past twenty years. This is the first in a series of expected hearings on the Federal Power Act. Doug was featured among several witnesses was consisting of industry experts and thought leaders, including: Clifford M. (“Mike”) Naeve, former Commissioner, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Partner, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP Linda Stuntz, Deputy Secretary... READ MORE
PHMSA Publishes Final Rule Expanding Installation of Excess Flow Valves On October 14, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published its final rule expanding the requirement to install either excess flow valves (EFVs) or manual service line shut-off valves (e.g. curb valves) on new or replaced service lines.  The final rule requires that operators: Install EFVs on new or replaced branched service lines servicing single family residences, multifamily residences and small commercial entities consuming gas volumes not exceeding 1,000 standard cubic feet per hour (SCGH).  An EFV is not required if (1) the service line does not operate at a pressure of at least 10 psig throughout the year; (2) the operator has... READ MORE
FERC FERC Issues Order Clarifying Applicability of  Order No. 827 Reactive Power Requirements to Repowered Generators - October 3 - The Commission issued an order clarifying that Order No. 827, which establishes reactive power requirements for non-synchronous generators does not preclude a public utility transmission provider from seeking to adopt a tariff provision defining "newly interconnecting non-synchronous generator" as including a repowering of an existing generator.  FERC however, declined to clarify that any repowering of an existing generator that requires new inverters and an interconnection study constitutes a “newly interconnecting non-synchronous generator” subject to Order No. 827.  Rather, public utility transmission providers... READ MORE
PHMSA Releases Policy Regarding Civil Penalty Calculations for Pipeline Safety Enforcement Cases On October 11, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) released a policy statement advising pipeline owners and operators that the agency has made the framework used for calculating civil penalties in pipeline enforcement available on its website.  In addition, the policy announced: Release of the Civil Penalty Framework.  PHMSA will make its “civil penalty framework” publicly available in order to provide greater transparency in how civil penalties are calculated.  The current version of this framework document will be published as part of the policy notice in the Federal Register, and updates will be posted on... READ MORE