On November 16, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of the Army (“Agencies”) unveiled a proposed rule to amend the effective date of the 2015 rule defining “waters of the United States,” commonly referred to as the “WOTUS Rule.” The WOTUS Rule, which defines the scope of federal jurisdiction under the CWA, was adopted by the Agencies under the Obama Administration in a 2015 Rule titled “Clean Water Rule: Definition of ‘Waters of the United States” (80 Fed. Reg. 27054, June 29, 2015).  As explained in previous alerts circulated in March 2014, June 2015, May 2016, March 2017, and July 2017, the WOTUS Rule has far-reaching implications for project developers across energy, water, agricultural, construction, and... READ MORE
One of the defining issues of the twenty-first century will be the allocation of fresh water. Climate change, population growth and expansion into once rural areas, pollution, and increased per capita consumption will severely strain the water allocation systems of all states, particularly those in the West.     In “Water and Growing Cities: A Survey of Western State Water Requirements for Urban Development,” the authors - water law practitioners in eleven surveyed states – considered how their state has begun to approach these challenges.  Presented on November 4, 2017 in Waco Texas, the Article was intended to provide the 2017 Dividing the Waters General Conference a summary of each state’s approach sufficient for the attending judges to discuss... READ MORE
On October 19, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a policy statement revising its longstanding policy on establishing the length of license terms for hydroelectric projects.   The policy statement establishes a default license term of 40 years for original and new licenses for hydropower projects located at non-federal dams, with certain exceptions discussed below.  The revised license term policy ends FERC’s longstanding practice of setting the length of the license term between 30 and 50 years based on the amount of redevelopment, new construction, new capacity and environmental mitigation and enhancement measures required under the license.  The policy statement appears to leave unchanged FERC’s longstanding practice of... READ MORE
The CSIS Energy & National Security Program and Van Ness Feldman are pleased to announce a conference on the history of vehicle efficiency standards and electricity regulation in honor of the late Robert Nordhaus. This program looks at the evolution of two policy areas in which Bob made an important mark, and which raise issues of great significance today. Van Ness Feldman partner Doug Smith is participating in a panel discussing current technology changes in the electric power sector and the lessons learned from past reform periods. The conference is being held at the CSIS headquarters in Washington, DC on October 19, 2017 from 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm.  Click here for more information and to register. READ MORE
Several Van Ness Feldman attorneys will be presenting at this year's HydroVision International conference in Denver, CO on June 27-30, 2017.  Mike Swiger and Chuck Sensiba will be participating on a panel discussing FAST, WRDA, HREA and other regulatory developments that will affect hydro licensing. Julia Wood will be speaking on new approaches to mitigation in the United States and  Maranda Compton, member of our Native Affairs practice, will be speaking on building relationships with Tribes/First Nations to improve water management.  As the largest gathering of hydro professionals worldwide, HydroVision features 3000+ attendees and 320+ exhibiting companies from around the world for a week of informative hydropower-focused meetings, workshops... READ MORE
It is with heavy hearts that we mark the passing of one of our founding fathers, Bill Van Ness, Jr. on Tuesday, November 21st.   Bill was a beloved friend, colleague, brother, father, and mentor. He was a visionary, finding the possibilities in every circumstance, and always keeping those around him focused on achieving the best outcome.  His accomplishments as a legislative craftsman and lawyer are legendary and impacted countless individuals throughout his lifetime and beyond.  He seamlessly married effective representation of clients and a lifelong dedication to public service, always stressing the importance of honest advocacy and the need to listen to, address, and balance all sides of important policy issues. As meaningful as Bill’s... READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman's Keturah Brown was honored by the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless for her volunteer work with at-risk Washington, DC residents.  Keturah received WLCH's Rising Star Award at a ceremony held Thursday, November 16.  The award is given to volunteers who go above and beyond to assist those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and in so doing, strengthen the mission and values of the Legal Clinic.   Keturah volunteered her time over the past several years, first as a law clerk and then as an associate, providing initial advice and ongoing advocacy to ensure that these vulnerable residents are treated fairly and have equal access to justice.   Congratulations to Keturah on this wonderful recognition of her... READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman ranked "Best Law Firm in the US" in eleven areas of practice, with six areas receiving National Tier 1 honors, by US News & World Report, including Law Firm of the Year for Native American Law. READ MORE
FLOODPLAINS AND FLOOD RISK A Brief Overview of Changing Management Responsibilities Molly Lawrence When it comes to how our communities address flood risk and protect populations and economies from flooding, no one government agency is in charge. Instead, there are multiple agencies at the federal, state, and local levels, and it can be difficult to figure out which agency carries out which responsibilities. The number of overlapping issues and authorities continues to grow as communities become more aware of flood risk. The goal of this article and our upcoming seminar in Seattle on December 8th, is to shed light on these complexities and to improve how critical flood risk decisions are made. Co-Authored by Van Ness Feldman Partner Molly... READ MORE
Senate Confirms FERC Commissioner Nominees On November 2, 2017, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nominations of Democrat Richard Glick and Republican Kevin McIntyre to be commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  Mr. Glick was sworn in as a FERC Commissioner on November 29, 2017.  He previously served as legal counsel for the Democrats on the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.  Prior to his service in the Senate, Mr. Glick was Vice President of Government Affairs for Iberdrola’s renewable energy, electric and gas utility, and natural gas storage businesses in the United States.  At the time of this publication, Mr. McIntyre has not yet been sworn in as a FERC Commissioner, and it is unclear when that will... READ MORE
Howard “Skip” Elliott Sworn in as PHMSA Administrator  On October 30, Howard (“Skip”) R. Elliott was sworn in as Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).  Mr. Elliott joins PHMSA following a long career at CSX Transportation, where he served as Vice President of Public Safety, Health, Environment, and Security and was responsible for hazardous materials, transportation safety, homeland security, railroad policing, crisis management, environmental compliance and operations, occupational health management, and continuity of business operations. PHMSA’s Technical Advisory Committees to Convene December 13-15 On December 13, the Liquid Pipeline Advisory Committee and Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC)... READ MORE