President Trump signed an Executive Order yesterday January 31, calling on executive branch departments and agencies to encourage recipients of defined types of new federal awards to use cement, iron, steel, aluminum and certain manufactured products produced in the United States. The order builds on prior authority (Executive Order 13788 (April 18, 2017)) focused on procurements by the departments and agencies themselves. The new order extends the “Buy American” conversation to private parties that receive new support, to promote the use of domestic sources in their onward purchases. It addresses programs that receive Federal financial assistance, 2 C.F.R. § 200.40, for creation, maintenance or repair of infrastructure projects.
Recently, our colleagues Amanda Halter, Stella Pulman and Ashleigh Acevedo published their Client Alert titled BSEE Decommission-in-Place Discussions Present Opportunity discussing the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE) Request for Information Regarding Potential Impacts of Decommissioning-in-Place of Pipeline-Related Infrastructure in Deepwater. Takeaways include:
- BSEE is asking for input on technical, safety and environmental and other factors that should be included as decom-in-place decision-making considerations for pipeline infrastructures in deepwater on the Outer Continental shelf (OCS).
On January 14, the Colorado Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (Commission) properly declined to undertake a rulemaking proceeding that was designed to preclude the Commission from issuing new permits unless the “best available science,” as confirmed by the findings of an independent third-party organization, determines that the drilling will occur in a manner that does not cumulatively impair the state’s atmosphere, water, wildlife, land resources and does not contribute to climate change. The case is Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, et al., v. Martinez, et al.
The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) recently posted final adopted text for amendments to the CEQA Guidelines. The result of over five years of development efforts by the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research and CNRA, the amendments are the most comprehensive update to the CEQA Guidelines since 1998. In “Natural Resources Agency Finalizes Updates to the CEQA Guidelines,” Pillsbury environmental attorneys Norman F. Carlin, Kevin Ashe and Eric Moorman explore the wide range of issues covered in the amendments, including the new Vehicle-Miles-Traveled (VMT) methodology for analyzing transportation impacts; use of regulatory standards as significance thresholds; environmental baselines; and numerous procedural and technical improvements.
Pillsbury attorneys Stephan E. Becker, Charles F. Donley II, Emily B. Erlingsson, Brian E. Finch, Aimee P. Ghosh, Meghan C. Hammond, Gerry Hinkley, Laura E. Jennings, The Honorable Gregory H. Laughlin, Jeffrey S. Merrifield, Elizabeth V. Moeller, Matthew Oresman, Craig J. Saperstein, Edward W. Sauer, and Deborah S. Thoren-Peden discuss the 2018 Midterm Election and assess some of the top issues where the incoming 116th Congress will likely be most active, including:
- Congressional Investigations
- Financial Services
- Tax Reform
- Cybersecurity and Privacy
- Foreign Policy, International Trade, and Sanctions
- Energy and the Environment
- Transportation and Aviation
- Health Care
- State and Local Government
- Compliance, Ethics, and Campaign Reform
- Ongoing incentives at the state level for offshore wind, other forms of renewable power, and electric storage;
- Impacts of dueling tariffs and trade restrictions on the energy industry;
- Reversals of federal policy on greenhouse gas emissions and on lands open to hydrocarbon development;
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s decision in Calpine v. PJM Interconnection and its consequences for wholesale electricity markets; and
- Cybersecurity and blockchain developments affecting the national grid.
On October 18, the Illinois Supreme Court decided the case of Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois v. Hutchings, et al. According to the Illinois Supreme Court, there is no presumption that Illinois courts have subject-matter jurisdiction over administrative actions. The availability of any review of this determination was controlled by the Public Utility Act (PUA), and under that law, the Circuit Court had no authority to assess the constitutionality of the Illinois Commerce Commission’s (Commission) proceedings when it was sitting as a court of general jurisdiction.
On August 21, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decided the “coal combustions residuals” case: Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, et al. , v. EPA. This new Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) case could have important implications for the coal industry and powerplants that use coal.
Within the past few weeks, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has issued some very significant rulings regarding the construction of new natural gas pipelines. These cases are Berkley, et al. v. Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, decided July 25; Sierra Club, Inc., et al., v. U.S. Forest Service, The Wilderness Society, et al., v. U.S. Forest Service, and Sierra Club, Inc. et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, decided July 27, 2018; and Sierra Club v. U.S. Department of the Interior and Defenders of Wildlife, et al., v. U.S. Department of the Interior, decided August 6, 2018. The first two cases involve the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and the last case involves the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity to these pipelines, but since the construction and operation will require various federal permits and authorizations, these federal regulatory actions are frequently being challenged in the courts. Continue reading
On July 19, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York decided the case of City of New York v. BP P.L.C., et al., granting the defendants’ motion to dismiss and dismissing the City of New York’s amended complaint. The amended complaint alleged three causes of action: (1) public nuisance; (2) private nuisance; and (3) trespass, and sought compensatory damages and an equitable order ascertaining damages and granting an injunction to abates these injuries, which would not, however, take effect unless the defendants failed to pay court-determined damages.