On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order (EO) called “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.”  The EO rescinds a host of climate change-related policies and rules instituted by the prior administration, including the Clean Power Plan and the Climate Action Plan. This new energy policy promotes all forms of domestic energy, and, as President Trump stated in the rollout, American energy dominance. The EO, through five policy statements, directs all federal agencies to identify and revise or revoke any rule that “burdens” the energy industry.

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With the inauguration of President Trump as the 45th President of the United States, stakeholders in various sectors of the energy industry have speculated about the future of energy policy in the new administration. While the early days of the administration have seen a clear commitment to the oil and gas sectors with action on the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, the question remains regarding the president’s anticipated support of the renewable energy sector.
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On December 15, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) in Docket No. RM17-3-000 regarding fast-start resources operating in markets run by independent system operators (ISOs) and regional transmission organizations (RTOs). Specifically, the NOPR addresses the manner in which ISOs and RTOs should incorporate offers from fast start-resources into their Day Ahead and Real Time energy prices. FERC claims that these efforts are another step to improve price formation in wholesale electricity markets.
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The Clean Power Plan, the Obama Administration’s attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, had its day in court on September 27. What a day it was!

Ten judges of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments addressing the validity of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan in this rare “once in a lifetime” case. (Judge Merrick Garland, a nominee to the Supreme Court, did not hear the case.) A dozen lawyers battled for nearly eight hours — far longer than the three hours the court had allotted — on issues ranging from the Plan’s constitutionality, obscure principles of statutory interpretation, congressional intent, states’ rights, and administrative procedure.
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On June 21, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) issued three orders related to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (NERC) critical infrastructure protection reliability standards (CIP reliability standards). The Commission issued a final rule directing NERC to develop a new or modified reliability standard, an Order Denying Rehearing and a Notice of Inquiry.
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On July 21, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) in Docket No. RM16-17-000 to revise regulations regarding the collection of data for analytics and surveillance purposes from market-based rates (MBR) sellers and entities trading virtual products or holding financial transmission rights (Virtual/FTR Participants). FERC also withdrew two earlier NOPRs in Docket Nos. RM15-23-000 and RM16-3-000. FERC indicated that the newly-issued NOPR would address many of the issues in the withdrawn NOPRs.
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In a long awaited release, on June 21, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Final Rule to allow for increased commercial operation of small, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or drones) in the National Airspace System (NAS).[1]  Existing regulation mandated that commercial users of UAS apply to the FAA for a case-by-case review for permission to use drones deterring widespread use of emerging drone technologies.  The Final Rule tracks the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in February 2015[2] and closes the regulatory gap that thwarted the use of drone technology by many utilities.
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On May 19, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) issued a Final Policy Statement clarifying FERC’s implementation of hold harmless commitments in Federal Power Act (FPA) Section 203 applications seeking change of control authorization. The Final Policy Statement largely tracks a Proposed Policy Statement that was issued in January of 2015.

For FERC approval under Section 203, a transaction must be “consistent with the public interest.” The Commission considers three factors in determining whether a transaction meets this requirement: the effect of the transaction on (1) competition; (2) rates; and (3) regulation. The Policy Statement relates to the second prong of FERC’s analysis (the effect on rates).
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A slowly developing renewable fuels market, several well-publicized fraud cases, and EPA’s delayed volumetric designations that frustrated industry participants have led EPA and the CFTC to a new era of cooperation. On March 17, 2016, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that they would share Renewable Fuel Standard data and analysis pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Under the MOU, the CFTC and EPA can share information and conduct joint or separate investigations into potential fraud, market abuse, deceptive practices, commodity market manipulation, or other violations relating to the generation of, and trading in, Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).
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