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  1. FAA Announces New Policy to Streamline UAS Integration for Low-Level Flights

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:53 pm by

    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced a new policy aimed at reducing the amount of time it takes for companies to deploy unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Specifically, companies that have obtained a Section 333 exemption for a UAS will now receive a “blanket” Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for flights at or below 200 feet. In the past, once the FAA granted a Section 333 Exemption the exemption holder would also have to file for a separate COA to fly the UAS in a particular block of airspace. The COA approval process can take 60 days.   This announcement comes on the heels of the FAA’s release of a proposed rule governing small UAS flights in the United States. A major component of the proposed rule that stakeholders have supported was the FAA’s introduction of alternatives to the COA process. (more…)


  2. 41 Questions the FAA Is Asking in Its ANPR on Small UAS / Drones

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015 1:17 pm by

    drone3Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published in the Federal Register its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking focused on the Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or “drones” within the United States. The publication in the Federal Register starts the clock on the 60-day comment period, which at this point ends on April 24, 2015.   My recent blog outlined the FAA’s general framework for the UAS ANPR, including the main operating limitations.

    Today, I’ve listed below some of the major areas where the FAA is seeking input from stakeholders, including Risk Mitigation, Line-of-sight, Payload, International, Size Class, Crewmember, Testing Site, and other issues. Among other things, the FAA is looking for comments on the feasibility of its proposal, alternatives, any new technology that could inform its decision, data and studies.

    The FAA specifically is seeking comment on: (more…)


  3. 2015 Platts LNG Conference with Bracewell & Giuliani LLP

    Monday, March 2, 2015 3:34 pm by

    On February 26 and 27, 2015, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP acted as a sponsor of Platts’ 14th Annual LNG Conference in Houston, TX. Bracewell attorneys both attended and presented at the conference, discussing new and ongoing regulatory challenges facing the industry. Follow us on Twitter @bgenergy and @bgllp


  4. Ohio Supreme Court Limits Municipal Regulation of Oil and Gas But Leaves the Door Open for Future Zoning Moratoriums

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015 1:35 pm by

    Last week, the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that certain oil and gas-related ordinances of the city of Munroe Falls are preempted by the state’s oil and gas law. State ex rel. Morrison v. Beck Energy Corp., Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-485. The decision is the latest in an ongoing battle being waged over the authority of local governments to zone or regulate the operations of oil and gas companies. Often, the success or failure of a local government’s ordinance depends on whether it aims to “regulate” oil and gas operations or simply control their location according to traditional zoning principles.

    While a win for industry in this case, the Supreme Court’s holding in State ex rel. Morrison v. Beck Energy Corp. was limited to the ordinances at issue in the case and does not go as far as recent rulings in Pennsylvania and New York that were focused on zoning authority. Previously, in July 2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional certain sections of the recently passed “Act 13” that would have removed a municipality’s ability to zone out oil and gas drilling in Pennsylvania. Huntley & Huntley, Inc. v. Oakmont Borough Council, 600 Pa. 207, 964 A.2d 855 (2009). Then, in August 2014, the New York State Court of Appeals held that municipalities can effectively “zone out” oil and gas operations by passing zoning ordinances that ban oil and gas production activities. Wallach v. Dryden, 23 N.Y.3d 728, 992 N.Y.S.2d 710 (2014). (more…)


  5. The FAA Releases First of Its Kind Proposal for Small Drones/Unmanned Aircraft Systems

    Thursday, February 19, 2015 5:08 pm by

    drone1

    On February 15, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) announced the release of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking focused on the Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) or “drones” within the United States.  The release of the UAS NPRM is a step in the right direction that many in the industry have been waiting for since the FAA first chartered the small UAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee (“ARC”) in 2008.

    While some industries may find aspects of the proposal restrictive, many are pleased with the FAA’s initial UAS regulatory effort, which is focused on small UAS or those that weigh less than 55 lbs.  The UAS NPRM will at least remove some uncertainty for industry and could trigger more investment in UAS technology.  However, the process from release of the UAS NPRM to when a final rule takes effect could take years.  Companies looking to operate UAS in the interim are left to navigate one of many current certification processes, which are limited to specific purposes and still involve a bit of uncertainty.

    In the meantime, companies interested in deploying their UAS technology as well as industries that see an expanded role for the use of UAS (e.g., energy, agriculture, entertainment) should consider commenting on the FAA’s proposal, which will set the stage for future of UAS regulation.  There will be an opportunity to comment for a 60-day period once the UAS ANPR is published in the Federal Register. (more…)


  6. Around the Corner: How Drones Are Changing the Energy Industry

    Wednesday, February 4, 2015 2:07 pm by , and

     

    Drones – or, in Federal Aviation Administration parlance, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) – are proliferating everywhere.  In the past few weeks an unmanned drone landed on the White House grounds and the federal government had to issue warnings not to fly drones over the Super Bowl.  The energy industry has already begun to exploit UAS’s potential for enhanced efficiency and safety.   Likewise, governments are finding ways to use drones to further their monitoring and enforcement efforts.  It promises to be very interesting times.

    This blog will focus on the use of drones in the energy industry and the FAA’s upcoming proposed regulations governing UAS usage. (more…)


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