On May 12, 2016, the EPA issued a final rule aimed at curbing methane emissions from new and modified sources of oil and gas. In addition to methane, the final rule regulates volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”) and several air pollutants that, according to the EPA, come “packaged” with methane when emitted from oil and gas infrastructure. EPA believes that the final rule will reduce methane emissions by 520,000 short tons by 2025, and thus help attain the Obama administration’s goal in the Climate Action Plan to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by 40 to 45% by 2025 from 2012 levels.
Continue Reading EPA Finalizes Methane Rule for New Oil, Gas Sources

On January 19, 2016, FERC Staff issued a white paper entitled, “Guidance Principles for Clean Power Plan Modeling.” Additionally, on January 27, 2016, NERC issued a special reliability assessment entitled, “Reliability Considerations for Clean Power Plan Development.” Each document is aimed at assisting various industry stakeholders with the implementation of EPA’s Clean Power Plan while maintaining grid reliability.
Continue Reading FERC and NERC Release Reports on Clean Power Plan Implementation

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 June 9, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) dismissed challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) proposed rule reducing carbon dioxide emission limits from existing power plants (“Proposed GHG Rule”).  In doing so, the D.C. Circuit held that it did not have the authority to review the Proposed GHG Rule because it was still being drafted and, therefore, no final agency action subject to judicial review existed.
Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Rejects Challenges to EPA’s Proposed Greenhouse Gas Rule

On May 15, 2015, the FERC commissioners sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) addressing two areas where FERC could contribute to maintaining reliability under EPA’s Clean Power Plan (“CPP”).  FERC’s letter was in response to EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe’s May 6, 2015 letter to FERC regarding FERC’s role in the CPP and the steps the two agencies have already pursued thus far.
Continue Reading FERC Offers EPA Advice on Commission’s Potential Role in Clean Power Plan

On May 1, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) held that the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it modified its National Emissions Standards and New Source Performance Standards (“NSPS”) to allow backup generators to operate without emission controls for up to 100 hours per year in emergency demand-response programs.  As a result of the ruling, the D.C. Circuit reversed the 100-hour exemption and remanded the rules back to EPA for further action.
Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Reverses and Remands Portions of EPA Backup Generator Rules

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 November 7, 2014, the Commission denied Consumers Energy Company’s (“Consumers”) request for limited waiver of several MISO tariff provisions on the grounds that Consumers had failed to adequately demonstrate that the requested waiver would not cause undesirable consequences, such as harming third-parties.  Consumers had filed its request for waiver in response to conflicting regulatory obligations under the MISO tariff and the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (“MATS”).
Continue Reading FERC Denies MATS-related Waiver for Consumers Energy

On October 6, 2014, a federal district court in Nebraska dismissed the state of Nebraska’s lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) proposed rule that would limit emissions of carbon dioxide from newly-built fossil fuel-powered generators.  The court ruled that the state of Nebraska’s challenge “jumped the gun” and would have to wait until there was a final agency action.
Continue Reading Federal District Court Dismisses State’s Challenge to EPA’s GHG Rule

On June 23, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) “Tailoring Rule,” but affirmed EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions under the Clean Air Act (“CAA”) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (“PSD”) permit program.  Writing for a five-member majority, Justice Antonin Scalia notably ruled that EPA could not “tailor” the PSD statutory permitting thresholds to exclude small GHG emitters from PSD program requirements.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Partially Affirms, Partially Reverses, EPA in Greenhouse Gas Case