Senior Associate Megan McLean has published “Biden Administration Promises to Double Down on Environmental Justice” in Rock Products Magazine. 

In the article, Megan outlines President Biden’s stance on environmental justice, the actions the EPA is taking to address environmental justice, and what companies need to do to mitigate foreseeable risks.

Read the article here.

Senior Counsel Coty Hopinks-Baul has published an article in Coal Age titled “CWA’s Permit Shield Spans SMRCA”.

In the article, Coty details a recent decision in the case of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards v. Red River Coal Co. Inc., where the Fourth Circuit upheld a district court’s dismissal of a citizen suit to enforce alleged violations of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) where the surface coal mine’s discharges were covered by a permit issued under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and SMCRA.

Read the article here.

After Winter Storm Uri devastated the ERCOT grid, calls for industry reform rang out across the state of Texas. For the past few months, public hearings and floor debates have considered wide-ranging proposals to harden the ERCOT system against extreme weather events and address the financial consequences of the storm. The Legislature considered numerous bills dealing with issues such as energy and ancillary services repricing, market rules and price formation, generation weatherization, ERCOT and Texas Public Utility Commission (“PUCT”) reform, debt securitization, and the appropriate role and accountability of renewable resources in securing reliability of the grid. Below we provide an overview of the most significant energy legislation proposed during the recent Texas legislative session, both related and unrelated to Winter Storm Uri fallout. The Legislature passed bills that will affect all segments of the Texas energy economy, which collectively will prompt significant change in the years ahead. We have described bills that “passed” as those that have been enrolled or have already been signed into law by the Governor (Bills that have an asterisk in this article have been signed by the Governor.). We note that the veto period extends for 20 days post-session, which ended May 31st , so as of this writing it remains possible the Governor may veto some of these bills, though we have no indication he intends to do so. We will update this post after the veto period expires to note any such vetoes. Continue Reading A Legislative Session in Review: Taking a Look at Key Energy Bills that Did (and Did Not) Pass During the 87th Regular Session

Much has been written and discussed in the last several months about SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies.  What is a SPAC, and what are the possible applications of this capital raising and acquisition strategy in the energy industry?  Those questions are the topic of this piece. Continue Reading SPACs Offer New Investment Opportunities for Energy Industry

Earlier this year, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) implemented the revised 2021 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements (“2021 Standards”) for surveys. If a contract to provide an ALTA/NSPS survey is executed after February 23, 2021, the survey must comply with the updated 2021 Standards. Continue Reading The 2021 ALTA/NSPS Survey Standards Impact on Renewable Energy Projects

Leah Kaiser has written an article for The Contractor’s Perspective outlining the Department of Energy’s new initiative to protect electricity operations from increasing cyber threats to the energy industry.

DOE’s initiative outlines four primary areas of focus: (1) encouraging the implementation of measures that increase “detection, mitigation, and forensic capabilities; (2) setting “concrete milestones” designed to “enable near real time situational awareness and response capabilities”; (3) supporting and increasing the “cybersecurity posture of critical infrastructure information technology (IT) networks”; and (4) establishing a voluntary program “to deploy technologies to increase visibility of threats in ICS and OT systems.”

For more information, read the article here.

As more renewable energy projects are being developed across the United States, the number of projects in areas that contain active oil and gas and mining operations continues to rise. In the beginning stages of greenfield development projects, the oil and gas and mining operations affecting parcels within the site plan is sometimes overlooked, and if not addressed, these types of interests and operations can cause significant delays and costs when developing and financing a new project. However, some initial research and due diligence at the beginning of a greenfield development project can usually protect the project from these types of issues and costs and assure the project can stay on schedule and budget. Continue Reading A Time and Cost Saving Measure: Researching Oil and Gas and Mining Operations During the Beginning Stages of Greenfield Renewable Energy Development Projects

In order for renewable energy projects to gain traction on a larger scale in the United States, significant investments need to go into building the required underlying infrastructure, including a green sustainable grid across the country.

Eminent domain, the government’s right to expropriate private property for public use with just compensation, has historically been the go-to tool for the fossil fuel industry to build and expand its vast network of pipelines by obtaining the parcels of land needed to build the pipeline. Eminent domain is a controversial concept and has been a popular target for environmentalists looking to slow the expansion of the fossil fuel pipelines.  Recent examples include the PennEast Pipeline, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline. Continue Reading Eminent Domain as Climate Policy: From a Target to a Potential Tool for Expanding Renewable Energy Projects

As greenfield development continues to grow, the title industry is facing increasing demand resulting in higher price tags and longer turnaround time for early stage title work. While it may have been common practice to wait until nearly all site control agreements were complete and a close-to-final site plan was in hand before requesting title commitments, this approach is no longer ideal. Continue Reading Early Engagement with Title Companies Key to Successful Greenfield Development

In the wake of winter storm Uri, ERCOT market participants are grappling with the resulting financial fallout. Many are now familiar with actions the Texas Public Utility Commission took during the February weather event with the intent to bring and maintain as much generation online as possible – notably ordering ERCOT to implement a temporary adjustment to the scarcity pricing mechanism designed to result in real time prices reaching the system-wide high offer cap at the statutory maximum of $9,000/mWh during the height of the generation forced outages.

Now, more than two months removed from the storm, the resulting financial impacts are having serious repercussions across the ERCOT market. Several retail electric providers have filed for bankruptcy, lawsuits are underway against a wide swath of market participants and regulators (ERCOT, the Public Utility Commission, generators, REPs, gas utilities, etc.), and countless market participants are faced with paying record-high bills for a range of reasons, including the need to procure energy in the real-time market during scarcity conditions, to obtain high priced gas supplies, to cover positions when their resources incurred outages, or exposure to uplift of default amounts owed to ERCOT. Complicating that, ERCOT has failed to pay many who did perform during the storm due to the short payment of some market participants, which means those who performed may not soon realize revenue associated with that performance. Additionally, the higher prices for power and ancillary services prompted ERCOT to substantially increase Counter-Party collateral requirements. Last month, the Public Utility Commission issued an order in Docket 51812 extending the deadline to dispute ERCOT invoices related to the winter event from 10 business days (under the current ERCOT Protocols) to six months. Since this order, the Commission has taken no additional action to address issues related to settlement invoices resulting from the storm. Continue Reading ERCOT Unveils Plan for Invoicing Default Uplift Charges