On February 5, 2019, in an unpublished summary order, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit (“2nd Circuit”) overturned the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (“New York DEC”) denial of a water quality certification for National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation’s (“National Fuel”) Northern Access Pipeline Project and remanded it back to the state for further explanation.
Continue Reading

On January 29, 2019, over 180 environmental organizations (“Environmental Groups”) wrote a letter to members of Congress requesting a congressional hearing into the approval process for interstate gas pipelines.  The Environmental Groups argue that FERC approves nearly all proposed pipelines, abuses its eminent domain authority, and relies on erroneous data when evaluating whether to allow pipeline companies to begin construction.
Continue Reading

On January 25, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (“D.C. Circuit”) in a unanimous decision granted a petition for review in Hoopa Valley Tribe v. FERC, No. 14-1271 (D.C. Cir., Jan. 25, 2019).  The key holding in the case, which concerns the ongoing FERC’s relicensing of the Klamath Hydroelectric Project, is that the States of California and Oregon waived their authorities under section 401 of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), 33 U.S.C. § 1341, by failing to rule on the applicant’s submitted application for water quality certification within one year from when it was initially filed in 2006.  The applicant for many years had followed, at the request of the States, the common industry practice of “withdraw-and-resubmit” of its water quality certification application in an attempt to annually reset the one-year time period for the States to act, as established under CWA section 401.  The D.C. Circuit in Hoopa Valley Tribe invalidated this practice as a means of resetting the statutory clock, instead holding that the clear text of CWA establishes that “a full year is the absolute maximum” time for a state to decide on a water quality certification application.
Continue Reading

On January 16, 2019, FERC launched investigations and initiated hearings pursuant to Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) section 5 into three natural gas pipeline companies in response to their Form No. 501-G filings to explore whether they have been over-recovering their costs of service.  Separately, FERC also found that nine other gas companies sufficiently complied with FERC’s directives in Order No. 849 and terminated their Form No. 501-G proceedings without taking any further action.
Continue Reading

On December 7, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (“Sixth Circuit”) affirmed the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio’s (“District Court”) granting of a preliminary injunction to Nexus Gas Transmission, LLC (“Nexus”).  The preliminary injunction will allow Nexus to exercise the right of eminent domain under the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) to build an interstate natural gas pipeline through parts of Ohio and Michigan.  The Sixth Circuit held that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in balancing the preliminary injunction factors and in refusing to allow an evidentiary hearing on the issue.
Continue Reading

On November 26, 2018, FERC partially granted the California Independent System Operator Corp. (“CAISO”) a temporary extension of two sets of tariff provisions concerning natural gas system limitations on CAISO’s system and corresponding market operations.  While FERC temporarily extended six tariff provisions related to the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility (“Aliso Canyon”) effective November 30, 2018, and December 16, 2018, as requested, it rejected CAISO’s proposal to temporarily extend the tariff revisions regarding gas price scalars.
Continue Reading

On October 11, 2018, twenty-six pipelines submitted filings in compliance with Order No. 849 in response to a directive from FERC concerning the effect of reduced corporate income taxes on pipelines. Order No. 849 established a staggered filing schedule, so pipelines have between 28 and 84 days to submit “FERC Form No. 501-G,” depending on how FERC assigned the pipelines. The pipelines in the first category were required to file Form No. 501-G along with other information to inform FERC and the public of the impact of the recent reduction in federal income tax rates, as well as the effect of the Commission’s policy on the collection of federal income taxes by tax pass-through entities, on their revenue requirements. 
Continue Reading

On September 21, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) ruled that FERC’s order to deny ANR Storage Company’s (“ANR”) request to charge market-based rates was arbitrary and capricious.  The D.C. Circuit found that FERC provided no basis for treating ANR differently from another competitor, DTE Energy Company (“DTE”) in a prior decision, and that FERC’s explanation for why intrastate facilities could not restrain ANR’s exercise of market power was internally inconsistent.  As such, the D.C. Circuit remanded the proceeding back to FERC.
Continue Reading