Navigating Unchartered Waters: FERC Provides Additional Guidance Through the Delegation of Additional Authority to FERC Staff for the Non-Quorum Period

In recent weeks, there has been much speculation over what actions the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) would take to ensure continuity of operations following the departure of Commissioner Norman Bay. Under the Department of Energy Organization Act, the Commission is required to have a quorum of three commissioners “for the transaction of business.” Because Commissioner Bay’s departure leaves only two FERC commissioners, many have questioned whether FERC would effectively cease to function until such time as the Trump administration is able to fill commission...
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President Trump’s SCOTUS Nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, Suggests a Weakening of the Chevron Doctrine With Less Deference to Rulemaking Efforts from EPA, DOI and Other Federal Agencies

On January 31, President Donald Trump selected Judge Neil Gorsuch as his nomination for the United States Supreme Court seat left open by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia nearly a year ago. From an environmental law perspective, it is most notable that the decisions penned by Judge Gorsuch have called for the reassessment and potential revocation of Chevron deference to agency interpretation of its own statutes, a doctrine Justice Scalia championed in his early days before exhibiting a degree of flexibility about it later in his tenure on the bench. Because most environmental regulations...

Reflections from Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur: A Look at FERC in its Final Days of a Quorum and in the Upcoming Non-Quorum Period

Earlier today, Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur participated in a podcast to provide some initial guidance about how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) will operate in the final days of a quorum and during the upcoming non-quorum period, in light of Commissioner Norman Bay’s pending departure in early February. [1] Among other things, Chairman LaFleur says FERC is working on a potential expansion of Staff’s delegated authority during the period of non-quorum, drawing from the experiences of other agencies during similar periods of non-quorum. We expect there...

President Trump Directs Federal Agencies to Solicit Input from the Manufacturing Sector on Streamlined Permitting and the Reduction of Regulatory Burdens

In his first week in office, President Trump has signed several Presidential Memoranda and Executive Orders aimed at encouraging domestic infrastructure development. Many of these executive actions direct federal agencies to adhere to a pair of central tenets, i.e., expedited review for high priority infrastructure projects and the use of U.S. materials and equipment. The “Presidential Memorandum Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing” signed on January 24, 2017, expands on these themes and directs federal agencies to undertake a notice and comment...

In Line With Recent Precedent, Trump Administration Directs Federal Agencies to Halt New Regulations

As expected, one of President Trump’s first actions after being sworn in to office was to issue a memorandum outlining his administration’s plans for managing new or pending federal regulations. As shown in the Table below, the memorandum from President Trump’s Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, to the heads of executive departments and agencies falls generally in line with the initial actions of several recent new Presidents, from Reagan to Obama. With a goal of allowing those in the Trump Administration an opportunity to review midnight regulations, the memorandum orders federal agencies to,...

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