On April 28, the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) reconvened to discuss the progress of three working groups established during its inaugural meeting on which we reported previously: the Justice40 Initiative, Executive Order 12898, and Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool working groups.
During the past week, President Biden’s focus on environmental justice continued to take shape with the announcement by the White House of the Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) membership and the WHEJAC’s first meeting.
On December 4, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a final rule updating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations applicable to its review of applications to export domestically produced liquified natural gas (LNG) to non-free-trade-agreement countries under Section 3 of the Natural Gas Act. DOE has determined that these actions are categorically excluded from NEPA review because 1) DOE is required by Section 3(c) of the Natural Gas Act to authorize these exports and 2) the reasonably foreseeable environmental effects DOE must review are limited — beginning at the point of export and extending to marine transport effects only. DOE is also removing reference to the import of LNG from its NEPA implementing regulations because the Energy Policy Act of 1992 leaves DOE with no discretion in its approval of such imports.
On February 12, 2019, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, participated in a German LNG Conference hosted in Berlin by German Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier. The group was joined by high-level government and industry leaders, including Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, Dr. Fatih Birol. (more…)
On December 19, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy issued a policy statement eliminating from any future export authorization orders the requirement that exporters report where LNG was “received for end use.’’ The relief is a nod to market participants who expressed concerns that exporters often have limited visibility into where their natural gas is ultimately consumed. The policy now will only require that exporters report where the natural gas was “actually delivered.” DOE issued an accompanying blanket order, DOE/FE Order No. 4322, to remove the end use provision from existing authorizations.
Our first enforcement update for 2018 covers:
- FERC terminates DOE NOPR proceeding on grid resilience and initiates new proceeding;
- FERC increases maximum civil penalties for violations;
- TOTAL files petition for writ of certiorari in Supreme Court;
- FERC loses again – Judge rules Powhatan and Chen are entitled to a de novo trial in district court;
- Judge denies Silkman and CES objection to magistrate’s discovery rulings in district court; and
- ERCOT proposes rule revisions to protect its jurisdictional independence from FERC.
This week’s enforcement update covers:
- BP files motion seeking dismissal of FERC case based on statute of limitations;
- Eversource sends cease & desist letter regarding alleged gas pipeline capacity withholding report;
- Secretary Perry grants extension for FERC action on DOE grid resiliency proposal;
- Kevin McIntyre sworn in as Chairman and Richard Glick sworn in as Commissioner at FERC;
- House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee holds hearing on financial trading in electricity markets; and
- CFTC releases annual enforcement results for Fiscal Year 2017.
On October 4, FERC issued an order granting a petition for declaratory order by a group of tax equity investors in renewable energy projects, which requested FERC confirmation that the tax equity interests identified in FERC’s order in AES Creative Resources do not constitute voting securities for purposes of section 203 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”). (more…)
This week’s enforcement update covers:
- Judge grants Smith motion for judgment on pleadings and dismisses Smith in Barclays case;
- DOE urges FERC to take action to address electric grid resiliency;
- CFTC Director of Enforcement emphasizes self-reporting and cooperation in speech;
- CFTC Division of Enforcement issues Updated Advisory on Self Reporting and Cooperation;
- CFTC orders Logista Advisors LLC to pay $250,000 for supervision failures related to spoofing;
- CFTC orders Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC to pay $500,000 for supervision failures;
- CFTC issues no-action relief regarding CPO and CTA registration;
- CFTC orders Citibank, N.A. and Citigroup Global Markets Limited to pay a $550,000 penalty for swap data reporting violations;
- CFTC orders Merrill Lynch to pay $2.5 million to settle charges of supervision failures and recordkeeping violations;
- Silkman and CES file partial objection to magistrate’s discovery rulings in district court; and
- FERC Staff presents on enforcement activities during the no-quorum period.
On July 19, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a pair of bills aimed at reforming natural gas and oil pipeline permitting, and granting additional authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). Both bills passed on largely party-line votes. The two bills are H.R. 2883, Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act, and H.R. 2910, Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act. H.R. 2883, removes the current requirement that gas and oil pipelines, as well as electric transmission projects, obtain a Presidential Permit to cross an international border. Instead, pipelines would obtain a certificate of crossing from FERC and transmission projects would obtain such a certificate from the Department of Energy. If enacted into law, this change would mark a significant change for oil pipeline projects. FERC currently has no authority over any aspect of interstate oil pipeline siting. Currently, all siting decisions not on federal lands are handled at the state level, with international border crossings overseen by the State Department through the presidential permit process. FERC does, however, oversee the siting of interstate natural gas pipelines, including Presidential Permits for international border crossings, under current law.