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Newsletter Articles

The Future of Hydropower in the Pacific Northwest: Challenges and Opportunities

October 12, 2016

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released a report detailing a vision for increasing the nation’s hydropower capacity by 50% by 2050. Despite a variety of technical, environmental, and market challenges to be overcome, the report concludes that there remain significant opportunities for future hydropower development in the United States. More

Pacific Gas & Electric Found Guilty of Five of Eleven Charges in Federal Criminal Case Related to 2010 San Bruno Gas Explosion

August 17, 2016

After deliberating for seven days, a federal jury convicted Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) of obstruction and five of 11 counts of pipeline-safety violations. The verdict included finding that PG&E had failed to gather information to evaluate potential gas line threats and deliberately had not classified a gas line as high risk. More

Recent Court Decisions Raise Important Considerations for Renewable Energy Projects

July 25, 2016

As a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently observed, “[r]enewable energy projects, although critical to the effort to combat climate change, can have significant adverse environmental impacts, just as other large-scale developments do.[1] Consistent with that observation, recent court decisions underscore a willingness on the part of the judic More

Wind Energy: USFWS Issues Draft Revisions to Eagle Incidental Take Rule

June 14, 2016

On May 4, 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released a proposed rule to revise its eagle permitting program under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.[1] Among other things, the rule revision (Rule Revision) focuses on eagle permit issuance criteria and compensatory mitigation standards of particular relevance to the wind industr More

It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again: Federal District Court in Oregon Rejects 2014 Columbia River Biological Opinion

June 14, 2016

It is always somewhat surprising – though it shouldn’t be by now – when a District Court throws out a biological opinion on which more than a few federal agencies and technical teams have worked, in collaboration, for years to create. More

Two Pacific Northwest Coal Terminal Proposals Founder on Shoals of Tribal Fishing Rights

June 9, 2016

In a decision issued on May 9, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) denied permit applications for a coal export terminal on Puget Sound in Washington state, determining that the proposal would have more than a de minimis impact on treaty fishing rights and, therefore, could not be approved without Congressional authorization.[1] More

Key Regulations Under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Will Be Finalized June 1

April 27, 2016

As controversy abounds over exactly what effect this winter’s El Niño rains have had on the longstanding drought in California, efforts to develop comprehensive state groundwater regulation continue to advance. More

FERC and the Supreme Court, Part Two: Court Decides Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing, Clarifying Lines Between Federal and State Jurisdiction Over Electric Power Markets

April 27, 2016

As the Supreme Court has recently explained, under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”),[1] “no electricity transaction can proceed unless it is regulable by someone.”[2] The FPA empowers the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) to oversee “the transmission of electric energy in interstate commer More

Not Ready for Roundup™ — The Regulation of Glyphosate Under California’s Proposition 65

March 8, 2016

Last September, the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (“OEHHA”) issued a notice of its intent to list glyphosate as a chemical “known to the state” to cause cancer.[1] Listing glyphosate as a known carcinogen would subject the chemical to new consumer warnings and other requirements under California More

Got Mold? A Brief Guide to Liability and Notice Requirements

March 5, 2008

Thousands of mold-related lawsuits have been filed in the United States during the last decade. Prior to 2000, most mold claims were routinely settled for relatively nominal amounts of $5,000 or less. Today, mold claims by commercial developers and homeowners routinely exceed $100,000, and some are resolved for much higher amounts. More

Does the Clean Water Act Regulate Discharges of Pollutants to Hydrologically Connected Groundwater? Federal Courts Disagree

January 27, 2016

The Clean Water Act (“CWA”) prohibits the discharge of pollutants into “waters of the United States”[1] without a valid National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permit.[2] The statute offers notoriously scant guidance as to what “waters of the United States” actually means. More

Supreme Court Evaluates Judicial Review of Clean Water Act Jurisdictional Determinations

April 20, 2016

The current eight members of the Supreme Court recently heard argument in a case regarding whether a party is entitled to judicial review of a jurisdictional determination (“JD”) by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”). More

The Western Governors’ ESA Initiative

March 8, 2016

The U.S. Congress has not reauthorized the Endangered Species Act since 1992. Despite many attempts to both amend and reauthorize the Act, a 1997 bi-partisan bill introduced by Idaho’s then-Senator Dirk Kempthorne came the closest.[1] More

Oregon Enacts Phase-out of “Coal by Wire” and Doubles Renewable Portfolio Standard

March 15, 2016

Although the U.S. Supreme Court on February 9 stayed the implementation of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan,[1] development of climate policy at the state level has not ceased. More

Water Rights Settlements in Oregon’s Klamath Basin Facing Uncertain Future

February 22, 2016

Oregon’s Klamath Basin has long been known as a hotbed of conflict over water rights, but over the past few years, a series of settlements among a diverse group of stakeholders have been hailed as a model for collaborative conservation. More

Consensus and Conflict in Oregon’s Troubled Waters – a Tale of Four Basins

February 22, 2016

Much has been made of the need to balance protection of species and habitats with consumptive water needs, and the importance of patient collaboration among stakeholders to strike an equitable balance among competing water resource demands. There have been notably mixed results in these endeavors in the state of Oregon in recent months. More