Sidley Environmental Trends

Topics discussed this week include:

  • Clean Water Act groundwater case settlement proposed, potentially ending Supreme Court review
  • EPA issues draft interim cleanup guidelines for PFAS in groundwater
  • EPA reaffirms its stance that glyphosate does not pose risk to human health and is not carcinogenic
  • Virginia will not join Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues certificate for natural gas pipeline expansion in Northeast

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2019 Spring Energy & Commodities Conference

Thursday, April 25, 2019
Sidley Austin | 1501 K Street N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20005
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Registration / Lunch & Keynote
1:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Program
5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Networking Reception

Government shut-down, climate change, inverse condemnation, energy & commodity regulation and enforcement – 2019 looks to be a pretty tumultuous year with lots of change.

Please join us for an in-depth discussion on evolving regulatory, transactional and business issues facing U.S. and international energy and commodities market participants.

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Sidley Environmental Trends

Topics discussed this week include:

  • Courts dismiss challenges to advisory panel membership policy.
  • Groups sue EPA for overdue spill regulations.
  • Environmental groups threaten suit over oil dispersant guidelines.
  • Court: Clean Air Act does not preempt odor nuisance claims.
  • Court holds that long-defunct companies may still face CERCLA liability.
  • New York close to banning plastic bags.
  • Environmental groups sue Iowa, asserting constitutional right to clean water.
  • Court strikes down Arctic drilling executive order.
  • Court rejects foreign policy objection to denial of Clean Water Act certificate.

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FERC Issues Wide-Ranging Call for Comments in Review of its ROE Policy

On March 21, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) initiated an Inquiry Regarding the Commission’s Policy for Determining Return on Equity (“ROE”) that was published in the Federal Register on March 28, 2019.  FERC is seeking comments on this Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) in eight general areas, including the role its base ROE plays in investment decision-making, and whether FERC should reevaluate how it uses the discounted cash flow (“DCF”) methodology to set ROEs for jurisdictional rates.  The DCF methodology has guided cost-of-service ratemaking at FERC since the 1980s.  It is used to ascertain an investor’s required return for investing in a firm, and is applied using a proxy group of firms that face similar risks to the entity whose ROE is being determined, which defines a “zone of reasonableness” for the ROE.  The use of a proxy group is intended to satisfy the “Hope” and “Bluefield” standards (named for a pair of 20th Century U.S. Supreme Court cases) that an ROE is commensurate with returns on investments in other enterprises having corresponding risks to assure confidence in the financial integrity of the enterprise to allow it to maintain its credit and attract capital. Comments on the NOI are due on June 26, 2019 and Reply Comments are due on July 26, 2019.

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FERC Opens Inquiry on Improvements to Electric Transmission Incentives Policy

On March 21, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) issued a notice of inquiry (“NOI”) in which the Commission addresses possible improvements to its electric transmission incentives policy.  The NOI requests stakeholder comment on a wide range of issues related to the Commission’s current transmission incentives policies. FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said, “as I announced in November, I believe these policies are overdue for a fresh look with input from all stakeholders, not just those that happen to be parties to a pending complaint proceeding.”  The NOI was published in the Federal Register on March 28, 2019.  Comments on the NOI are due on June 25, 2019 and Reply Comments are due on July 25, 2019.

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