Next week, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) will host a forum on critical offshore connector equipment failures, including connector bolts used in blowout preventers (“BOPs”) currently deployed on the U.S outer Continental Shelf (“OCS”) and worldwide.  The forum follows a flurry of recent activity by BSEE to address potential safety and environmental risks associated with faulty subsea connector bolts. To illustrate the importance of these seemingly basic BOP components, BSEE Director Brian Salerno, in a July 2016 “Director’s Corner” blog post, detailed two reported failures of connector bolts that have occurred over the past six years.  Director Salerno warned that “[w]ith so much at stake during these operations, we... READ MORE
On August 12, 2016, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) unveiled a proposed rule that would require entities holding rights-of-way (“ROWs”) for oil and gas pipelines on the outer Continental Shelf (“OCS”) to report the actual costs incurred by those entities during the decommissioning of pipelines.  Comments on the proposed rule are due by September 12, 2016.  BSEE’s proposed rule represents the latest effort by the U.S. Department of the Interior (“DOI”) to more accurately quantify decommissioning costs associated with OCS oil and gas activities and to ensure that OCS lessees, operators, and pipeline ROW holders have adequate financial resources available to cover those decommissioning costs. While BSEE’s proposed rule... READ MORE
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently issued a final rule to regulate the commercial use of small unmanned aircraft or drones.[1]  Some of the requirements of the final rule could preclude the use of drones for the efficient monitoring and inspection of remote and linear energy facilities such as transmission lines, pipelines and hydroelectric facilities.  Congress, however, has instructed the FAA to develop procedures to exempt from those requirements the use of drones for monitoring and inspection of critical infrastructure.  This Alert provides an overview of the requirements with which drone operators must comply in order to legally operate a drone.  It also provides a brief explanation of the steps that utilities, pipelines and... 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
Susan Olenchuk and Bob Christin will be featured instructors at New Mexico State University's The Basics of FERC Ratemaking for Interstate Pipelines course being held in Albuquerque October 10-13th.   The three day course is designed to capture the nuances of the natural gas pipeline industry and includes an overview of topics such as FERC ratemaking authority under the Natural Gas Act and FERC regulation of pipeline construction.  For more information and to register, please click here. READ MORE
Washington, D.C. and Seattle– Van Ness Feldman is pleased to announce that this year over half of the firm’s partners have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2017 (Copyright 2016 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, S.C.).  This year’s honorees are ranked in the following practice areas: Energy, Energy-Regulatory, Environmental, Government Relations, Land Use and Zoning Law, Litigation - Environmental, Litigation – Land Use and Zoning, Litigation – Real Estate, Native American, Natural Resources, Oil and Gas, Real Estate, Transportation, Utility and Water Law.    Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence utilizing an exhaustive peer-review survey in which more than 41,000... 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.  Mr. Farber brings twenty years of experience to the firm, having worked in private practice and as a government official, in rapidly assessing, investigating, and resolving compliance issues across a wide variety of industries. In announcing Mr. Farber’s arrival, firm Chair Richard Agnew, said “The perspective and expertise that Mike brings from his time in public service and in private practice complements and expands the firm’s capabilities representing oil and gas development companies. Companies and public entities face a wide array of issues in the current... READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman is pleased to announce the addition of Bryn S. Karaus as an Associate in the firm’s Pipeline Safety practice.  Ms. Karaus joins the firm after having worked at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for the past six years.   As a member of the firm’s Pipeline Safety practice, Ms. Karaus will focus on the regulation of pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities and the transportation of hazardous materials, and will assist clients on a full range of compliance, policy, and enforcement matters. In announcing Ms. Karaus’s arrival to the firm, Susan Olenchuk, Partner and Practice Coordinator of Van Ness Feldman’s Pipeline and LNG Practice and Pipeline Safety Practice... READ MORE
FERC FERC Accepts NERC Supplemental Budget True-Up Filing - August 19 - FERC issued a letter order accepting NERC's revised filing comparing actual costs to budgeted costs for NERC and the Regional Entities for 2015.   FERC Approves Retirement of NPCC Disturbance Monitoring Reliability Standard - August 16 - FERC issued a letter order approving the joint petition of NERC and the Northeast Power Coordination Council, Inc. (NPCC) for the retirement of NPCC Regional Reliability Standard PRC-002-NPCC-01 (Disturbance Monitoring), as well as two related NPCC regional definitions for Current Zero Time and Generating Plant.  NERC and NPCC state that the primary purpose for PRC-002-NPCC-01 is fully addressed in continent-wide Reliability Standard PRC-002-2... READ MORE
FERC FERC Extends Compliance Date for Reactive Power and Ride-Through Requirements - August 8 - FERC issued a notice of extension for the compliance date with Order No. 827 (Reactive Power Requirements for Non-Synchronous Generation) and Order No. 828 (Requirements for Frequency and Voltage Ride Through Capability of Small Generating Facilities).  FERC is also requiring a single combined compliance filing for those yet to file on or before August 8.  The new compliance date is October 14, 2016. NERC NERC Seeks Approval of Remedial Action Scheme Standard - August 5 - NERC requested that FERC approve Reliability Standard PRC-012-2, which addresses all aspects of the design, approval, installation and maintenance of Remedial Action Schemes (RAS)... READ MORE
Jury Returns Mixed Verdict in PG&E Criminal Trial Regarding San Bruno Pipeline Incident On August 9, the jury returned a mixed verdict against Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) in the criminal trial involving the rupture and explosion of a gas transmission line in San Bruno, California in 2010.  The company was found guilty on five counts of knowingly and willfully violating integrity management requirements under Part 192 of the federal gas pipeline safety regulations and not guilty on six counts of violating Part 192 recordkeeping requirements.  The jury also found PG&E guilty on one count of obstructing the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) investigation of the incident in violation of section 1505 of title 18 of the United States... READ MORE