Bracewell & Giuliani

Powered by the attorneys of Bracewell & Giuliani, Energy Legal Blog® is your resource for updates and analysis on national and global energy issues.
  1. Checking Off the List: DOE Approves a Third Non-FTA LNG Export Authorization

    Wednesday, August 7, 2013 5:22 pm by and

    The Department of Energy (“DOE”) recently issued its third order authorizing the export of liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) to non-Free Trade Agreement (“FTA”) countries.  This latest order, for Lake Charles Exports, LLC (“Lake Charles”), will allow exports of up to 2 Bcf/day from the Lake Charles LNG terminal and bring the cumulative DOE-authorized non-FTA exports up to 5.6 Bcf/day. 

    Over the past several years, DOE has received approximately 19 applications to export LNG to non-FTA countries, and it has issued two export authorizations thus far.  The first was for Sabine Pass Liquefaction, LLC and the second was for Freeport LNG Expansion, L.P. and FLNG Liquefaction, LLC (together “Freeport”).  DOE is processing the remaining applications in accordance with a published list, with Dominion Cove Point LNG, LP being the next application in queue for review.  This next order is expected in six to eight weeks. (more…)

  2. FERC Takes Steps to Eliminate Barriers to Transmission Provider and Pipeline Communications

    8:38 am by

    On July 18, 2013, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“Commission”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) proposing to revise its regulations to permit expressly interstate natural gas pipelines and public utilities that own, operate, or control transmission facilities (i.e., transmission operators) to share non-public, operational information for the purpose of promoting reliable service or operational planning. The Commission issued the NOPR in response to statements by natural gas pipelines and transmission operators at recent conferences concerning electric-gas coordination that they are reluctant to share non-public operational information with each other due to a concern that such sharing may be viewed as a violation of Commission laws and regulations, including the prohibitions against undue discrimination and preference contained in the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) and Natural Gas Act (“NGA”). 

    Noting that the protections against undue discrimination and preference do not prohibit differences in treatment when the difference is justified, the Commission clarified that the sharing of non-public, operational information between transmission operators and natural gas pipelines for the purpose of promoting reliable service or operational planning is reasonable and does not violate the FPA or NGA. In addition, responding to concerns that the Standards of Conduct (“SOC”) contained in Part 358 of the Commission’s regulations could prevent the effective participation of such entities in regional reliability or system planning exercises, the Commission clarified that the SOC do not limit communications between pipelines and transmission operators that are not affiliated with each other; the Commission emphasized, however, that communicating non-public transmission information during private exercises involving only the transmission provider and its marketing function employees is prohibited by the SOC, as it would give marketing function employees preferential access to non-public transmission information. (more…)

  3. FERC Moves to Streamline Certain Intrastate Gas Pipeline Filings

    Saturday, July 20, 2013 9:00 am by

    On July 18, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued a final rule that will create a new, streamlined rate filing and approval process for certain natural gas pipelines, including section 311 and Hinshaw pipelines.[1] Under FERC’s modified regulations, section 311 and Hinshaw pipelines can elect to make rate filings through “optional notice procedures,” under which the rate filing will be automatically approved, without FERC order, if no protests are filed against it. Section 311 and Hinshaw pipelines should benefit from the optional notice procedures because they allow for quicker and more reliable approval of uncontroversial rate filings.

    Under the optional notice procedures, protests must be submitted within 60 days of the pipeline’s initial filing (though FERC may establish another deadline of its choosing). If no protests are submitted in this time, the filing is approved. If protests are submitted, and the parties reach no resolution during a 30 day settlement period, FERC will initiate a proceeding to resolve the issues. The optional notice procedures also establish a deadline for interventions and initial comments of 21 days after the pipeline’s initial filing. While protests can be filed at any point up until the 60 day deadline, FERC’s aim is to get initial comments submitted within 21 days so that there is time to get disputed issues resolved and withdrawn before the 60 day deadline. (more…)

  4. FERC Requires Filing of Additional Oil Pipeline Rate Base Information

    Friday, July 19, 2013 2:41 pm by

    On July 18th, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) approved a final rule that makes substantive changes to the components of FERC Form 6, which interstate oil pipelines are required to file each year.[1] The rule requires additional reporting of the figures underlying pipelines’ rates of return and is intended to make it easier for both FERC and oil pipeline shippers to evaluate whether a given transportation rate complies with the law.

    The new rule pertains to page 700 of Form 6, which provides information designed to show the pipeline’s cost of service, including O&M expenses, rate base, rate of return, total cost of service, revenues, and throughput. The purpose of this reporting is to provide a preliminary screen for determining whether a pipeline’s rates are “just and reasonable” as required by the Interstate Commerce Act. (more…)

  5. EPA Improves Transparency by Posting Petitions and Notices of Intent Online

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013 9:10 am by

    In response to a request made by Senator David Vitter, EPA has made several concessions to address concerns about agency transparency.  In particular, industry has had concerns about the recent increase of so-called “sue and settle” cases.  Under the sue and settle process, advocacy groups sue EPA to issue a regulation. During closed-door settlement discussions, the advocacy group and EPA agree to a timeline and the content of a new rule.  After an agreement has been struck, it is difficult for the public to persuade EPA to modify the terms of the settlement agreement during the notice and comment period; therefore, the closed-door settlement discussions ultimately end up dictating the terms of the future agency action.  The Ninth Circuit recently dealt a blow to this practice by overturning a consent decree that the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service entered into with various advocacy groups.  Conservation Northwest v. Sherman, No. 11-35729 (Opinion dated Apr. 25, 2013) (holding “that a district court abuses its discretion when it enters into a consent decree that permanently and substantially amends an agency rule that would have otherwise been subject to statutory rulemaking procedures.”). (more…)

  6. EPA Takes A Step Towards Additional TSCA Regulation of E&P Fluids

    Wednesday, July 10, 2013 12:51 pm by

    A notice expected to be published by EPA in the Federal Register on July 11, 2013 could be a step towards additional Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) regulation of substances used in oil and gas exploration.  The notice follows a prior response to a petition from environmental groups seeking regulation of exploration and production (E&P) fluids under TSCA.  While EPA rejected the majority of that petition, EPA partially granted a portion of the petition and is considering proposing rules that could require the submission of some data regarding chemical substances and mixtures used in E&P. (more…)

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