On June 21, 2016, the U.S. District Court of Wyoming (“District Court”) rejected the Bureau of Land Management’s (“BLM”) regulations for hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands. In doing so, the District Court held that (1) BLM’s originating land use, management, and planning statutes did not grant BLM authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing and (2) Congress’s exclusion of non-diesel hydraulic fracturing from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) underground injection control (“UIC”) programs means that no federal agency can regulate hydraulic fracturing.
Continue Reading U.S. District Court of Wyoming Rejects BLM’s Hydraulic Fracturing Rules

On October 1, 2015 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) adopted a more stringent air quality standard for ground-level ozone emissions that reduces the national standard from 75 parts per billion (“ppb”) to 70 ppb. By promulgating a new ozone standard, EPA says it aims to reduce smog from ground-level emission sources, including power plants, smoke stacks, and automobiles. In conjunction with the new standard, EPA also issued an “Implementation Memo,” which outlines the agency’s plans for addressing various implementation issues under the new standard.
Continue Reading EPA Modifies Air Quality Standards for Ozone

On September 22, 2015, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) announced that the sage-grouse would not be listed under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) – a particularly significant decision for wind development in the Western United States.
Continue Reading U.S. Department of Interior Denies Sage-Grouse Endangered Species Act Protection

On January 14, 2015, the Office of the Press Secretary released a fact sheet announcing the Obama Administration’s “new goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by 40-45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.”  In furtherance of this goal, the fact sheet also sets out a list of specific actions the Administration intends to complete.  The initiative will be run primarily by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), which will operate in coordination with the Department of Energy (“DOE”), the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”), and the Department of Transportation (“DOT”).
Continue Reading Obama Administration Announces Actions to Cut Methane Emissions

On September 13, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) held that the Department of Interior (“Interior”) breached its 2006 precedent agreement (“Precedent Agreement”) with Rockies Express Pipeline LLC (“Rockies Express”) after the Interior refused to sign a related transportation agreement with Rockies Express.  The case involved a series of contracts between Rockies Express and a unit of the Interior – Minerals Management Service – that included Royalty-in-Kind (“RIK”) provisions, all of which allowed the Interior to ship natural gas that Rockies Express extracted from nearby federal land.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Rules that Interior Breached Precedent Agreement with Rockies Express Pipeline

On Wednesday, June 5, 2013, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) issued the Final Sale Notice for the sale of commercial wind energy leases on the Outer Continental Shelf.  The auction is scheduled to take place on July 31, 2013 and will offer 164,750 acres for commercial wind energy leasing off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  BOEM will simultaneously auction the area as two separate leases.
Continue Reading DOI Announces July Auction of 160,000 Acres for Offshore Wind Development

On April 10, 2013, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Sarah “Sally” Jewell to be Secretary of the Interior.  On February 7, 2013, President Obama nominated Ms. Jewell to replace outgoing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.  Ms. Jewell had a confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on March 7, 2013.
Continue Reading Senate Confirms Sally Jewell as Secretary of the Interior

On November 30, 2012, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes, and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Tommy P. Beaudreau announced the first ever competitive lease sales for renewable energy development for offshore wind projects in federal waters.  Described as part of the Obama Administration’s strategy to continue to expand domestic energy production, the proposed energy lease sales are for two separate Outer Continental Shelf offshore locations, described as “Wind Energy Areas.” 
Continue Reading DOI Announces Competitive Renewable Energy Lease Sales for Offshore Wind

On October 23, 2012, the Department of Interior (“DOI”) announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) will lease 96,430 acres of federal waters off the coast of Delaware to NRG Bluewater Wind Delaware LLC (“NRG”).   The lease is the first under DOI’s “Smart from the Start” initiative, which aims to streamline the process for developing wind in the Outer Continental Shelf (“OCS”) by identifying areas for wind development through a “coordinated environmental analysis, public review and large-scale planning.”
Continue Reading Interior Announces Federal Lease Off Delaware Coast for Offshore Wind to NRG

On October 9, 2012, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Department of the Interior (“DOI”) approved the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project as “suitable for wind energy development.”  The project could generate up to 3,000 megawatts (“MW”) of power in southeastern Wyoming, and helps DOI reach President Barack Obama’s goal of authorizing 10,000 MW of renewable power on public lands by the end of 2012.
Continue Reading Department of Interior Approves New Wind Project Sites, Reaches 10,000 MW Goal