EPA Draft Guidance Memorandum on the Application of County of Maui

On December 8, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released a draft guidance memorandum (“Draft Guidance”) to provide guidance to the regulated community and permitting authorities, including the EPA, on applying the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court (“Court”) on County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund , 140 S. Ct. 1462 (2020) (“ Maui County ”), in the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) Section 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permitting program. EPA notes that the Draft Guidance only addresses discharges of pollutants that reach waters of...

FERC Offers Limited Clarifications on its PURPA Reform Order

By a November 19, 2020 Order on Rehearing, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) clarified a discrete set of issues arising from its landmark July 2020 order (“Final Rule”) modifying the Commission’s regulations implementing the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”). [1] For a more thorough review of the Final Rule, which becomes effective December 31, 2020, please see our previous post . In the Order on Rehearing, the Commission clarified six specific aspects of the Final Rule: (1) certain circumstances requiring small power production...

LIBOR LATEST - A Temporary Reprieve for USD LIBOR?

Often referred to as “the world’s most important number”, the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) is used as the reference interest rate for a range of commercial and financial contracts worth hundreds of trillions of dollars globally. As market commentators and regulators have been highlighting for many months, the scale and complexity of the LIBOR replacement exercise requires all market participants to prepare for a coordinated transition as soon as possible. As we enter into the final month of 2020, one of the strangest and most challenging years in recent history, the issue of the...

FERC Proposes New Treatment of Fuel Cells Under PURPA

Comments for FERC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Fuel Cell Energy Output (“NOPR”) are due tomorrow, November 25, 2020. [1] In the NOPR, FERC proposes to modify its regulations for qualifying facility (“QF”) status under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, as amended, (“PURPA”) to allow Solid Oxide Fuel Cell systems with integrated natural gas reformation equipment to be eligible for PURPA QF status. This post provides an overview of the NOPR itself. The Bracewell team will follow up next week with an overview of the comments that are posted in this docket. QF owners enjoy...

U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Factual Update on TPC Group Port Neches Facility

Today, the CSB issued an interim factual update on its investigation of the November 27, 2019 explosion at TPC Group's Port Neches facility in Texas. The November 2019 explosion resulted in millions of dollars of estimated loss, shut down the area for several days, and a fire that burned for months. The facility manufactured 1,3-butadiene and raffinate-1, and the facility was subject to OSHA's process-safety-management ("PSM") standard and U.S. EPA's risk-management-plan program ("RMP"). Based upon the CSB's investigation so far, the explosion may have occurred from a loss of containment in...

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