FERC Issues 2022 Summer Energy Market and Reliability Assessment, Warns Extreme Weather Could Pose Operational Challenges

On May 19, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff issued its 2022 Summer Assessment for energy markets and electric reliability. The report finds that U.S. electric markets are expected to have sufficient capacity and reserves to maintain reliable operations under normal conditions but warns that higher than average temperatures are expected for the coming summer.

The 2022 Summer Assessment also notes the following: (more…)

FERC Rolls Back its Recently Enacted Policy Statements on the Certification of New Natural Gas Infrastructure

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced on March 24, 2022, that it will delay enacting any changes to its existing policies on the authorization or certification of interstate natural gas pipeline infrastructure under Sections 3 and 7 of the Natural Gas Act. Two policy statements FERC issued on February 18, 2022, in Docket No. PL18-1 and Docket No. PL21-3 (collectively, the 2022 Certificate Policy Statements) have now been deemed “drafts” that are subject to further comment. Initial comments will be due on April 25, 2022, with reply comments due on May 25, 2022. One of the two policy statements, which had been deemed “interim” but given immediate legal effect on February 18 prior to being relabeled a “draft” on March 24, had an initial comment date of April 4, 2022, which has now been extended to the aforementioned dates. Sidley provided a detailed summary of the changes implemented in the 2022 Certificate Policy Statements in a prior client alert and Energy Brief. (more…)

Sidley Energy Enforcement Update

This Sidley Update addresses the following:

  • District court judge finds that FERC may not pursue joint and several liability and disgorgement in Coaltrain case – FERC seeks interlocutory appeal.
  • FERC Report on Enforcement highlights increased enforcement activity in 2021.
  • FERC approves settlement between Enforcement staff and Golden Spread.
  • FERC orders penalties against GreenHat Energy, LLC and individuals.
  • DOJ and CFTC charge Puerto Rico resident and his firm for misappropriation of nonpublic information and fictitious trading.

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U.S. Senate Advances Bipartisan Infrastructure Package

This week, the U.S. Senate advanced a much-anticipated bipartisan infrastructure bill. After months of negotiations and a failed procedural vote last week, the White House and a bipartisan group of Senators unveiled a bipartisan infrastructure deal to provide $550 billion in new spending on July 28. That same day, in a 67-32 vote, 17 Republicans joined all 50 Democrats to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill. Today, the Senate passed another bipartisan procedural vote to officially consider the bill on the Senate floor. While the Senate continues to work on finalizing the legislative text, the following topline funding provisions were released:

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TSA Issues Directive to Enhance Pipeline Cybersecurity

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”) issued a Security Directive, “Enhancing Pipeline Cybersecurity” on May 28, laying out new cybersecurity requirements for operators of liquids and natural gas pipelines and LNG facilities designated as critical infrastructure. (more…)

White House Unveils Expansive Infrastructure Proposal

President Joe Biden unveiled the first of his two-part infrastructure proposal on Wednesday, March 31. Referred to as the American Jobs Plan, the package would provide $2.3 trillion in spending to support traditional infrastructure upgrades and activities within a new, more expansive definition of infrastructure. The plan provides $621 billion for transportation infrastructure and resiliency activities, $115 billion of which would fund repairs to roads and bridges. This also includes $174 billion in electric vehicle (EV) investments to create a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030, electrify at least 20% of school buses, and electrify the federal fleet, including the U.S. Postal Service. In addition, the proposal provides $111 billion in water infrastructure funding, which includes $45 billion to replace 100% of the nation’s lead service lines and $10 billion to monitor and remediate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water.

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FERC Makes First Significance Determination on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On March 22, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) for the first time issued an order that assessed whether greenhouse gas emissions related to a natural gas pipeline certificate project would significantly contribute to climate change. FERC purported to perform the assessment pursuant to its obligation under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to take a “hard look” at a project’s environmental impacts.

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Ninth Circuit Affirms Special Power Rate for Cryptocurrency Miners

On March 11, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a decision approving of Grant County, Washington’s, special power rate for cryptocurrency miners. In Cytline, LLC, et al. v. Public Utility District No. 2 of Grant County Washington, a group of cryptocurrency companies sued after a Grant County utility district created a special energy rate applicable only to cryptocurrency miners. The companies had moved to Grant County because the county had some of the lowest rates for electricity in the country. (more…)

EU Emissions Compliance Regulation Gaining Traction

Historically, the emissions standards for mobile sources promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been viewed as more ambitious than European Union (EU) standards. The United States’ stringent enforcement of mobile source emission standards may result in significant financial penalties; extensive injunctive relief, such as recalls and high-cost mitigation projects; corporate compliance requirements; and in some cases, criminal indictment.

On the other side of the Atlantic, in the EU, mobile emissions compliance regulations are becoming more robust. In particular, the EU appears to be adopting a stricter approach on emissions through a growing body of case law on the interpretation and application of existing emissions compliance regulations. In a judgment on 17 December 2020, in CLCV and Others, the Court of Justice of the European Union (Court) adopted a potentially broad interpretation on the definition of defeat devices and appeared to limit the scope of exceptions for their use in vehicles sold, registered, or put into service in the EU.1 This judgment is likely to set the benchmark for other proceedings on the admissibility of defeat devices in the EU.

Notably, there are at least six cases pending before the Court on mobile source emissions and the concept of defeat devices for light-duty passenger and commercial vehicles under Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 (Regulation).2

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