On March 21, 2017, the Wyoming Pipeline Authority (“WPA”) withdrew its request for rehearing of the delegation order that FERC issued on February 3, 2017 (“Delegation Order”) in anticipation of the Commission’s loss of quorum following the departure of former Chairman Norman Bay.  The Delegation Order allows FERC staff to take action on certain matters until no later than fourteen days after a quorum is restored (see February 21, 2017 edition of the WER).  WPA filed its rehearing request on March 6, 2017 and argued that the Delegation Order impermissibly grants powers to FERC staff that are greater than those conferred to the Commission itself by Congress (see March 13, 2017 edition of the WER).

WPA’s March 21 filing, which can be found here, provides no explanation for the withdrawal.  It was the only formal contest to the Delegation Order.

According to various reports, President Donald Trump plans to appoint Kevin McIntyre as FERC Chairman, and Neil Chatterjee and Rob Powelson as FERC Commissioners, to fill the three vacant Commissioner seats at FERC. All three potential appointees are Republicans, whereas the current Commissioners—Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur and Commissioner Collette Honorable—are Democrats. Continue Reading Reports Suggest President Trump Plans to Appoint McIntyre as FERC Chairman, Chatterjee and Powelson as FERC Commissioners

On March 6, 2017 the Wyoming Pipeline Authority (“WPA”) requested rehearing of FERC’s February 3, 2017 Delegation Order (“Delegation Order”).  In the filing, the WPA asserted that the Delegation Order exceeds FERC’s statutory authority because it purports to authorize agency staff members to take action that would not be possible for FERC itself to take due to the current lack of quorum.  This deficiency, WPA argued, can only be cured through the appointment of new Commissioners. Continue Reading Wyoming Pipeline Authority Challenges Legality of FERC Delegation Order

On March 2, 2017, the U.S. Senate voted 62-37 to confirm Rick Perry as the Secretary of the Department of Energy (“DOE”). Secretary Perry will succeed Dr. Ernest Moniz. Prior to his confirmation as Secretary of the DOE, Secretary Perry was Governor of Texas from December 2000 to January 2015, qualifying as the longest-serving governor in Texas history.

After being sworn in, Secretary Perry stated, “It is an honor and privilege to serve as the Secretary of the [DOE]. As Secretary, I will advocate and promote American energy in all forms.”

A record of the vote on Secretary Perry’s confirmation is available here. The DOE’s press release on the swearing in of Secretary Perry is available here.

On February 24, 2017, President Donald Trump issued a Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda (“Executive Order”) which requires the heads of agencies to designate an agency official as the “Regulatory Reform Officer” within 60 days, and establish “Regulatory Reform Task Forces.” The objective of each Regulatory Reform Task Force will be to “evaluate existing regulations and make recommendations to the agency head regarding their repeal, replacement, or modification, consistent with applicable law.” Continue Reading President Trump Orders Agencies to Create “Regulatory Reform Task Forces”

On February 21, 2017, FERC’s Acting Chairman, Cheryl LaFleur, announced the appointment of Judge Clark S. Cheney as a FERC Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).

Judge Cheney previously served as an ALJ with the Social Security Administration. Prior to working at the Social Security Administration, Judge Cheney was an attorney adviser and Acting Assistant General Counsel at the U.S. International Trade Commission. Judge Cheney has also worked in private practice during his career, where he advised on intellectual property and other legal matters.

In welcoming Judge Cheney, Acting Chairman LaFleur stated that Judge Cheney’s “extensive experience will benefit [FERC] and the public.”

A copy of the press release is available here.

Since Commissioner Norman Bay’s departure from FERC on February 3, 2017 created the absence of the requisite three-Commissioner quorum necessary for the Commission to vote (see January 31, 2017 edition of the WER), FERC Staff has continued to act on certain pending matters under the authority delegated to it by the Commission on February 3, 2017 (see February 3, 2017 Troutman Sanders Alert). Continue Reading FERC Staff Acting Under Delegated Authority in the Absence of Three-Commissioner Quorum

On January 20, 2017, President Donald Trump asked the heads of executive departments and agencies temporarily to refrain from sending regulations to the Office of the Federal Register (“OFR”), withdraw regulations that have been sent to the OFR but have not yet published in the Federal Register, and postpone certain regulations that have been published in the Federal Register but have not taken effect.  In addition, on January 30, 2017, President Trump ordered executive departments and agencies to identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed for every new regulation proposed for notice and comment or otherwise promulgated (“January 30 Executive Order”).  In a guidance memorandum released February 2, 2017, the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) clarified, among other things, that the January 30 Executive Order does not apply to independent agencies such as FERC. Continue Reading President Trump Asks Agencies to Freeze Regulations, Orders Agencies to Repeal Two Regulations for Every New Regulation Promulgated

On February 1, 2017 FERC issued an order approving a settlement between its Office of Enforcement (“Enforcement”) and Houston-based power marketer GDF SUEZ Energy Marketing NA, Inc. (“GSEMNA”) following an investigation into whether GSEMNA violated FERC’s anti-manipulation regulations from May 2011 to September 2013. As part of the agreement, GSEMNA neither admitted to nor denied the alleged market manipulation violations, but agreed to be subject to monitoring and annual compliance reporting as well as to pay a disgorgement of $40.8 million in unjust profits and a civil penalty of $41 million to the U.S. Treasury. Continue Reading FERC and Power Marketer GSEMNA Reach $80 Million Enforcement Settlement over Alleged Market Manipulation

On January 24, 2017, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order and two Presidential Memoranda directing relevant federal agencies to take expedited review and approval action on various infrastructure projects, including the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects. Additionally, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum directing relevant federal agencies to develop a plan under which all new U.S. pipeline projects will use domestically sourced materials and equipment.

Continue Reading President Trump Issues Executive Order to Expedite Approval Process for Certain Pipelines, Other High Priority Infrastructure Projects