This week, United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a directive to end the Obama-era “sue and settle” practice of the agency.  Under the existing practice, environmental and special interest groups sue EPA to try to force the agency to take certain actions, and the agency typically settles those lawsuits by entering into private settlement agreements and public consent decrees.  Those settlements often lead to the promulgation of environmental regulations, what Pruitt calls “the results of collusion with outside groups” that, according to him, takes place behind closed doors and excludes intervenors, interested stakeholders, and affected states from the process.  Pruitt wants to put a stop to the Continue Reading Pruitt Directive Puts a Stop to EPA’s Sue and Settle Practice

As anticipated, on October 10 the EPA signed a proposed rule to repeal the Clean Power Plan rules for existing stationary sources. The proposed rule concludes that the Clean Power Plan exceeds EPA’s authority under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act by regulating emissions by (among other approaches) substituting generation from lower-emitting existing natural gas combined cycle units and zero-emitting renewable energy generating capacity.

Rather, EPA has now determined that Continue Reading Update on the Proposed Repeal of the Clean Power Plan

As we discussed in a previous post, the International Trade Commission (ITC) found that U.S. producers are being seriously injured or are threatened with serious injury by imports of silicon photovoltaic cells and modules.  As the case now advances to the remedy phase, companies, countries and trade organizations on all sides of the matter weighed in with their official recommendations for a suggested remedy.

Petitioner, Suniva, lowered the tariff suggestion from its original filing from $0.40 to a minimum of $0.24 per watt for standard crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) cells, with similar proposals from California-based manufacturer Auxin Solar and Oregon’s SolarWorld Americas. Continue Reading U.S. Solar Manufacturers and Foreign Parties Offer Trade Remedies to ITC

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has announced his intention to act today to sign a proposed rule that would “withdraw the so-called Clean Power Plan of the past administration.” This move by the agency is no surprise, given President Trump’s campaign promises to bring back coal and Pruitt’s lawsuit challenging the rule filed in his capacity as the Oklahoma Attorney General.

The goal of the Clean Power Plan rules is to significantly limit Continue Reading EPA’s Regulatory Process to Withdraw Clean Power Plan Rules Starts Today

On September 29, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a notice that may impact wholesale rates in all federally regulated wholesale markets (not including ERCOT), possibly affecting: (i) merchant plant owners, (ii) wholesale market customers, (iii) renewable and gas fired generation, (iv) coal and nuclear power plant owners, and (v) power traders.  Husch Blackwell energy regulatory attorneys Linda Walsh, Chris Reeder and Sylvia Bartell issued a detailed client alert on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) issued by DOE requiring regional transmission organizations (RTOs) and independent system operators (ISOs) “to ensure that certain reliability and resilience attributes of electric generation resources are fully valued.” The proposed market reform would provide Continue Reading DOE Proposes Special Compensation to Coal and Nuclear Generators

Husch Blackwell international trade attorney, Jeffrey Neeley, and energy attorney, John Crossley, hosted a teleconference in which they discussed the implications of and next steps in the US International Trade Commission’s (ITC) ongoing case that imported crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) cells and modules have caused “serious injury” to domestic manufacturers.  A detailed summary of the ITC’s September 22 finding of serious injury is detailed in Jeff’s previous post.

Follow up analysis during the teleconference included:

  • ITC vote on injury to the US industry
  • Upcoming hearing for potential remedies set for October 3
  • Possible remedies and their impacts on the industry
  • Strategies that US importers and consumers may want to consider

A recording of the teleconference is now available (due to technical difficulties, the recording begins approximately 1:00 into the call).

The U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”)  found that U.S. producers are being seriously injured or are threatened with serious injury by imports of silicon photovoltaic cells and modules. The case now moves quickly to the remedy phase at the ITC. Prehearing briefs on remedy must be filed by the parties by September 27, a hearing on remedy will be held on October 3, and post-hearing briefs will be filed on October 10. The ITC is scheduled to vote on remedy on October 31 and will send it recommendations to the President by November 13. The President then will have 60 days to accept or modify the recommendations of the ITC. Continue Reading ITC Finds “Serious Injury” to U.S. Manufacturers from Foreign Imports of PV Cells and Modules.

Linda Walsh
Sylvia Bartell

In an in-depth and informative analysis on the Department of Energy’s recently released Staff Report to the Secretary on Electricity Markets and Reliability, Husch Blackwell regulatory attorneys Linda Walsh and Sylvia Bartell examine the department’s stated goal of considering past and current trends in the electric industry in an effort to “exercise foresight to help ensure a system that is reliable, resilient, and affordable long into the future.”

Linda’s and Sylvia’s conclusion?  While the report explores the directed topics identified by Secretary Perry, it does little to build on ongoing regulatory efforts at FERC. Further, it focuses on more short-term pursuits that are economically and environmentally questionable, while at the same time missing opportunities that would modernize the bulk electric power system for the longer term. Read their entire article on Law360.

 

 

As you are all aware, hurricane Harvey had a major impact on Texas and has left many residents without power.  On August 28th, in order to facilitate the monitoring of the effects of the hurricane, the PUCT opened PUC Project 47552 – Issues Related to the Disaster Resulting From Hurricane Harvey.  At today’s open meeting, PUC commissioners discussed this project as well as impacts the hurricane has had on central and southeast Texas.  During this discussion, Commissioner Anderson noted that he would like more detailed information from every entity affected by the hurricane.  Because of this statement, we urge you to maintain detailed information as to how the hurricane might have affected you and your provision of service.  Also, be prepared to answer questions from the commission and possibly ERCOT/TRE detailing any storm related damages or outages as well as how you have handled any damages.

Contract our Texas regulatory attorneys, Chris Reeder or Maria Faconti, if you have any questions.  We sincerely hope you have not been affected by the hurricane.

Last week, Wisconsin state legislators introduced a proposal to repeal the so-called “moratorium” on the mining of sulfide ore bodies (i.e., mineral deposits in which nonferrous metals are mixed with sulfide minerals) in Wisconsin. The state law in question was enacted in 1998 over concerns that sulfide minerals exposed during mining activities can react with air and water to form acid drainage which can pollute groundwater and harm lake and stream life.

The moratorium is actually a requirement that prohibits Continue Reading Wisconsin Legislators Propose to Repeal State Metallic Mining “Moratorium”