On March 14, 2018 and March 15, 2018, FERC issued separate orders (1) reinstating the certificate for the Southeast Market Pipelines Project (“SMP Project”) and (2) authorizing DTE Midstream Appalachia, LLC’s (“DTE”) Birdsboro Pipeline Project.  In approving the projects, FERC held that determining the significance of the indirect effect of a pipeline on downstream greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions is not possible for purposes of FERC’s National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) analysis, and that the Social Cost of Carbon tool is not appropriate for estimating a project’s downstream impacts in FERC’s NEPA analysis.  In partial dissents, Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick asserted that GHG emissions estimates and the Social Cost of Carbon tool can inform FERC’s Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) section 7 evaluation. Continue Reading FERC Certificate Orders Address Estimates of Pipeline Impacts on Downstream GHG Emissions

On March 12, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (“Second Circuit”) held that the New York Department of Environmental Conversation (“NY DEC”) waived its authority to act on Millennium Pipeline Company, L.L.C.’s (“Millennium”) application for a Clean Water Act (“CWA”) section 401 water quality certification by not acting on the application within one year of receipt.  In doing so, the Second Circuit rejected the NY DEC’s argument that the one-year statutory deadline begins when a state agency deems the application complete, rather than when the application is received. Continue Reading Second Circuit Affirms FERC Ruling that NY DEC Waived Authority on CWA Permit for Pipeline Project

On March 7, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) granted FERC’s request to stay the issuance of a mandate that would have vacated FERC’s certificate order approving the Southeast Market Pipelines Project (“SMP Project”), a natural gas pipeline currently in service in the southeastern United States.  The D.C. Circuit’s order effectively avoids shutdown of the SMP Project while FERC finalizes its supplemental review of the project incorporating its revised environmental analysis.  As a result of the D.C. Circuit’s order, FERC now has until March 26, 2018 to issue a new order authorizing the project. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Grants FERC Extra Time to Reissue Approval of SE Market Pipelines Project

On February 23, 2018, FERC approved PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) changes to its tariff and Reliability Assurance Agreement (“RAA”) to revise Reliability Pricing Model (“RPM”) capacity market rules in order to accommodate greater participation from seasonal resources.  Specifically, FERC approved changes related to: (1) resource aggregation for submitting combined capacity market sell offers; (2) granting winter-period interconnection rights; and (3) demand response resource measurement and verification for seasonal resources.  However, FERC separately responded to complaints that the RPM does not adequately accommodate seasonal resources by directing FERC staff to establish a technical conference to explore whether further changes are needed to permit seasonal resource participation. Continue Reading FERC Orders Technical Conference on Seasonal Resources Participating in PJM’s RPM Capacity Market

On February 20, 2018, FERC approved PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) proposal to, among other things, (1) eliminate biddable points at zone nodes, certain generator nodes, certain aggregate nodes, and individual load zones for Increment Offers (“INCs”) and Decrement Bids (“DECs”) and instead align the eligible trading points for INCs and DECs with nodes where generation, load, or interchange transactions are settled, or at trading hubs where forward positions can be taken; and (2) allow trading of Up-to-Congestion transactions (“UTCs”) at hubs, residual metered load, and interfaces, but not at individual nodes. Continue Reading FERC Approves PJM’s Proposal to Reduce Bidding Points for Virtual Transactions

In response to concerns regarding the changing nature of the nation’s energy supply portfolio and the emergence of promising energy storage technologies, the Commission in recent years issued several notices of inquiry, notices of proposed rulemaking, and policy statements regarding various energy storage and ancillary service supply issues.  Additionally, the Commission considered but ultimately declined to pursue the Department of Energy-initiated rulemaking on grid resiliency and reliability.  On February 15, 2018, however, the Commission took concrete action by issuing a pair of Final Rules, addressing (i) storage participation in regional markets; and (ii) the provision of primary frequency response, a critical grid support service. Continue Reading FERC Issues Final Rules on Electric Storage Participation in RTOs/ISOs and Primary Frequency Response for New Generators

On February 12, 2018, the White House issued its proposed framework for an infrastructure bill to Congress.  Notably, the White House’s infrastructure plan proposes to (1) establish a firm deadline of 21 months for lead agencies to complete their National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) reviews and an additional 3 months thereafter to approve or deny a permit (i.e., a decision on an interstate natural gas pipeline project or hydropower license application must be made within 2 years of the application); and (2) amend the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) to set a deadline for a state agency to determine whether a CWA section 401 certificate application is complete. Continue Reading White House Releases Outline for Legislative Infrastructure Plan

On February 2, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) remanded FERC’s decision denying complaints that the ISO New England, Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) rules locking in prices for new entrants to ISO-NE’s Forward Capacity Market (“FCM”) result in price suppression and discriminatory rates for existing suppliers.  In doing so, the D.C. Circuit held that FERC did not adequately explain why its prior decision to reject a similar proposal did not apply to ISO-NE’s rules. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Remands FERC Decision Upholding ISO-NE FCM Rules Locking in Prices for New Entrants

On January 25, 2018, as amended on January 31, 2018, FERC Office of Enforcement Staff (“OE Staff”) answered BP America Inc., BP Corporation North America Inc., BP America Production Company, and BP Energy Company’s (collectively, “BP”) arguments that FERC must dismiss its order assessing civil penalties and disgorgement against BP for violating FERC’s anti-market manipulation rule due to the five-year statute of limitations for civil penalties.  Among other things, OE Staff argued that (1) enforcement actions under the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) are distinct from the enforcement process under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”), and thus similar federal district court precedent in the FPA context is inapplicable to BP; and (2) FERC’s issuance of disgorgement is more remedial than punitive and thus not subject to the statute of limitations. Continue Reading FERC Enforcement Staff Argues Claims Against BP Are Not Time-Barred due to Differences Between NGA and FPA

On January 24, 2018, FERC staff directed Rover Pipeline LLC (“Rover”) to stop horizontal directional drilling (“HDD”) activity—which involves using a drill to bore horizontally underground and drilling mud to remove drill cuttings and maintain the bore for a newly constructed pipeline to “cross” beneath rivers and other areas—at the Tuscarawas River site due to inadvertent losses of drilling mud.  Although FERC staff found that Rover had complied with its HDD contingency plans and that drilling mud had not impacted sensitive resources, FERC staff requested Rover to provide information to assess alternate methods of crossing the Tuscarawas River. Continue Reading FERC Staff Directs Rover Pipeline to Cease HDD Activity at the Tuscarawas River Site