On January 3, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) filed a petition for rehearing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) requesting the court reconsider a November 19, 2013 ruling that ordered DOE to stop collecting nuclear waste disposal fees.  DOE requested the D.C. Circuit rehear the case en banc – where all members of the court participate.
Continue Reading DOE Asks D.C. Circuit to Reconsider Opinion Ending Nuclear Waste Disposal Fees, Recommends that Congress “Zero Out” Waste Fees

On August 29, 2013, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) issued a request for information (“RFI”), seeking comments on its draft Integrated, Interagency Pre-Application (“IIP”) process.  This IIP process is aimed at establishing a “coordinated series of meetings and other actions” before a federal agency would accept a high-voltage transmission line application or take other action to trigger federal review.
Continue Reading DOE Seeks Comments on Pre-Application Process for Transmission Siting

On June 25, 2013, President Barack Obama released a sweeping climate plan (“Plan”) using his authority to both address greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions and to prepare for the impacts of climate change.  The plan, which consists of a wide variety of executive actions, has three key pillars: (1) cut carbon pollution in America; (2) prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change; and (3) lead international efforts to combat global climate change.
Continue Reading President Obama Announces Climate Action Plan

On June 7, 2013, President Obama issued a memorandum titled “Transforming our Nation’s Electric Grid Through Improved Siting, Permitting and Review.”  The memo directs the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, and the Interior (collectively the “Secretaries”) to engage in certain actions aimed at establishing energy right-of-way corridors on Federal lands (“energy corridors”) and improved transmission siting, permitting, and review processes.  The memo focuses on expanding energy corridors outside those designated by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture in 2009 in 11 contiguous Western States (as defined in section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005).
Continue Reading President Obama Issues a Memorandum Encouraging Development of the U.S. Electric Transmission Grid

On May 17, 2013, the Office of Fossil Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE/FE”) conditionally approved the application of Freeport LNG Expansion L.P. and FLNG Liquefaction, LLC (together, “Freeport”) to export Liquefied Natural Gas (“LNG”) to countries without a free trade agreement (“FTA”) with the United States.
Continue Reading DOE Approves Second LNG Export Application for Non-FTA Countries

On May 16, 2013, the U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Ernest Moniz as the next Secretary for the Department of Energy (“DOE”).  With a unanimous vote of 97-0, Dr. Moniz succeeds Secretary Steven Chu.  Dr. Moniz was previously the Under Secretary for DOE from 1997 until 2001, and served as a professor of Physics and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology prior to his nomination (see March 11, 2013 edition of the WER).
Continue Reading Moniz Confirmed as Secretary of Energy; McCarthy Nomination Moves to Senate Floor

On January 11, 2013, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) released the “Strategy for the Management and Disposal of Used Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste” (“Strategy”). The Strategy builds on the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (“BRC”) and includes plans for a pilot interim storage facility, a full-scale interim storage facility, and a geologic repository (see February 5, 2010 edition of the WER).
Continue Reading DOE Releases Strategy on Nuclear and Radioactive Waste Storage and Disposal

On December 5, 2012, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) released the results of a long-awaited study that it commissioned regarding the macroeconomic impacts of liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) exports from the U.S.  Notably, the study, conducted by NERA Economic Consulting (“NERA”), concluded that “LNG exports have net economic benefits in spite of higher domestic natural gas prices.”  The study also determined that LNG exports from the U.S. would have a relatively small impact on domestic prices, and that LNG exports from the U.S. are “not likely to affect the overall level of employment in the U.S.”
Continue Reading DOE-Commissioned Study Concludes that LNG Exports Would Benefit United States

On September 21, 2012, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint eight individuals to the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (“NWTRB”).  The NWTRB was created through the 1987 amendments to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (“NWPA”) and is an independent agency of the federal government. 
Continue Reading Obama Announces Eight New Members of Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board

On April 10, 2012, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) announced that it is offering up to $15 million in funding to companies, universities, or laboratories working to develop biomass-based oil supplements that can be blended with petroleum.  Possible materials used to create the prototype include algae, corn and wheat stovers, dedicated energy crops or wood residues.
Continue Reading Department of Energy to Fund Research on Biomass Based Supplements for Traditional Fuels