California: Planning its Offshore Wind Future

California is jumpstarting its planning for offshore wind. Under newly enacted legislation, Assembly Bill No. 525 (“AB 525”), California agencies are now tasked with identifying the state’s offshore wind goals and with developing a strategic plan to address several issues that have affected offshore wind development on the Eastern seaboard, such as port infrastructure and upgrades, transmission bottlenecks, impacts to other ocean users and communities, and permitting challenges. AB 525 broadly outlines California’s offshore wind strategy and the role of offshore wind in achieving the state’s...

Department of Interior Revokes Migratory Bird Treaty Act Rule

In an action that will take effect December 3, 2021, the Department of Interior has revoked the 2021 Migratory Bird Treaty Act Rule which defined the types of activities criminalized under the Act. In the revoked rule, issued on January 7, 2021 in the last days of President Trump’s administration, Interior defined prohibited activities under the Act to exclude the incidental—i.e., unintentional—taking of migratory birds. Interior’s action now reverses the agency’s short-lived position on incidental takes (which was first articulated early in the Trump Administration via a Department of the...

Public Interest? Federal Court Questions USACE Review of Need for Hospital

On September 9, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio ruled against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in a case styled Friends of the Mahoning River v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers , a challenge to a Section 404 permit issued for the construction of a hospital. Although challenges to Section 404 permits are nothing new, this particular case is notable for its treatment of USACE public interest regulations – regulations that apply to all applications for Department of the Army permits by the USACE Regulatory Program. 33 CFR Part 320. Those regulations require...

FERC Announces Members and Establishes First Meeting for Joint Federal-State Transmission Task Force

On August 30, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an order advancing its efforts on the Joint Federal-State Task Force on Electric Transmission (“Task Force”) [1] initially announced in a June 17, 2021 FERC order . [2] The August 30 FERC order identified Task Force members, announced an initial meeting date, and requested that interested stakeholders submit recommended agenda topics for the Task Force’s initial meeting to FERC. FERC identified the following broad goals for the Task Force: “identifying barriers that inhibit planning and development of more efficient...

FERC Launches Sweeping Effort to Gather Input on – and Potentially Overhaul – its Transmission Planning, Cost Allocation and Generator Interconnection Rules

On July 15, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANOPR”) requesting comment on a broad set of potential reforms to the Commission’s regional transmission planning, regional transmission cost allocation, and generator interconnection processes. Coming at a time of renewed focus on the need for capital investment to modernize the grid to meet the needs of a rapidly changing resource mix, the ANOPR represents a first step by the Commission to address perceived inadequacies in existing transmission planning,...
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