The Colonial Pipeline explosion that occurred on Monday, October 31, 2016, was catastrophic, killing one worker and shooting flames 100 feet high. The explosion, which was caused during an effort to fix a line breach also injured four additional workers, and crippled gasoline supplies to the northeast. This explosion on the Colonial Pipeline and the resulting severing of gasoline supply to the northeast caused the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue a waiver of the federal RFG (reformulated gasoline) requirements as promulgated under the Clean Air Act (CAA).
Yesterday, President Obama signed into law the “Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety” (PIPES) Act. This bi-partisan bill was the culmination of efforts by both the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. This Act is intended to increase the efficiency and transparency of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) while enlarging safety inspections and audits of the natural gas pipeline industry.
Tuesday night, the U.S. Senate passed the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act (PIPES Act). This bill is now headed to President Obama to be signed into law. In addition to reauthorizing the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) through FY2019, this soon-to-be law enacts substantive changes in the pipeline industry’s regulatory landscape.
On February 18, 2016, EPA Announced its Triennial National Enforcement Initiatives (“Initiatives”). The EPA issues these Initiatives once every three years in order to help “focus time and resources on national pollution problems” according to Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance at EPA. The latest round of Initiatives will begin on October 1, 2016 and once again will list natural gas producers and water authorities as targets for EPA inspections and enforcement.
U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on line between FERC and States when it comes to demand response programs.
Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court in a majority decision reversed the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision and determined that a regional transmission organization’s (RTO) demand response program compensation comes under FERC’s jurisdiction. A demand response program is when, during high electricity demand, customers of electricity are paid not to use electricity. These demand response programs serve to lower electricity prices and increase the reliability of the electric grid. Center to the present issue is FERC’s issuance of Order No. 745 (Order 745). Order 745 requires market operators to pay the same price to demand response providers for conserving energy as to the generators for making energy. The D.C. Circuit Court held that FERC lacked authority to issue the order because Order 745 would directly regulate retail electricity rates. The D.C. Circuit Court also held that FERC’s demand response compensation scheme was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed.
Despite high demand due to persistent cold weather, heating oil and propane will continue to flow to Pennsylvania homes due in part to the extension of the drivers’ hours-of-operation exemption issued by the Governor’s Office.
On May 15, 2014, during the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s annual meeting, the PBA’s Administrative Law Section presented the James S. Bowman Award to Kevin J. McKeon of Hawke McKeon & Sniscak, LLP. The award honors a lawyer who is making a significant impact on the practice of administrative law and who is demonstrating leadership in mentoring administrative law practitioners. McKeon regularly represents clients before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and also serves as lead counsel on significant cases before Pennsylvania’s appellate courts and the federal circuit courts of appeal. He serves on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Appellate Court Procedural Rules Committee, is a co-author of Pennsylvania Appellate Practice, and is a frequent lecturer on topics in administrative law and appellate procedure. The award is named for the late Honorable James S. Bowman, the first President Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, whose comprehensive knowledge of administrative law, government law and appellate procedure was widely recognized and respected.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has issued an Emergency Proclamation temporarily waiving certain state and federal motor fuel carrier regulations for propane and heating oil transport carriers.
On November 25, 2013, Governor Tom Corbett signed Act 89 (the “Act”) into law. The Act, predominantly funded by an increase in motor fuel taxes, will provide needed upgrades to Pennsylvania’s transportation infrastructure.
Jersey and New York gasoline distributors continue to struggle to supply gas stations with diesel and gasoline product while federal and state legislatures both suspend and invoke regulations in order to assist and police gasoline distributors.
Pursuant to the Proclamation of Disaster Emergency issued by Governor Corbett on October 26, 2012, the Secretary of Transportation, Barry J. Schoch, has signed a waiver extending the hours drivers may drive in a single shift from 11 to 14 hours. This waiver applies to drivers carrying motor fuels, heating oil, or propane.
Solar developers are finding that Pennsylvania funding sources for solar development are drying up with no plans of replenishing the pool. The dearth of available solar grants could not come at a worse time. On May 17, 2012, the U.S. Commerce Department announced stiff tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels raising costs on most future solar projects.
On January 3, 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) issued a Special Bulletin extending the deadline for persons who own fuel oil delivery trucks to comply with section 3.31 of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Handbook 44. Section 3.31 of NIST requires installation of special equipment on fuel oil delivery trucks so that proper testing can be performed for temperature adjusted product. The deadline for the installation of this equipment has been extended from July 1, 2011 to October 1, 2012.
EPA has posted its bio diesel standards for 2012. As part of the EPA’s mandate to march the U.S. toward energy independence, the EPA establishes the minimum bio fuel requirements that manufacturers must meet each year. The new bio standards are out and they equate to an aggressive total renewable fuel volume of 9% of all fuels sold.
The PA PUC’s recent public hearing to explore the future of the competitive electricity markets in Pennsylvania was no less than a resounding success according to Chairman Robert Powelson of the Commission.