On May 14, 2018, the Department of Energy Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability released its Multiyear Plan for Energy Sector Cybersecurity. The plan is significantly guided by DOE’s 2006 Roadmap to Secure Control Systems in the Energy Sector and 2011 Roadmap to Achieve Energy Delivery Systems Cybersecurity. Taken together with DOE’s recent announcement creating the new Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (“CESER”), DOE is clearly asserting its position as the energy sector’s Congressionally-recognized sector-specific agency on cybersecurity.
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Recent press reports indicate that a cyber-attack disabled the third-party platform used by oil and gas pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners to exchange documents with other customers. Effects from the attack were largely confined because no other systems were impacted, including, most notably, industrial controls for critical infrastructure. However, the attack comes on the heels of a Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) alert warning of Russian attempts to use tactics including spearphishing, watering hole attacks, and credential gathering to target industrial control systems throughout critical infrastructure, as well as an indictment against Iranian nationals who used similar tactics to attack private, education, and government intuitions, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). These incidents are raising questions about cybersecurity across the US pipeline network.
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US EPA Administrator Pruitt signed a notice denying petitions to change the “point of obligation” under the RFS program. EPA stated that its “primary consideration” in reviewing the petitions was whether changing the point of obligation would improve the effectiveness of the RFS program to achieve Congress’s goals. EPA concluded that the petitioners did not meet that standard.
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On August 15, 2017, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit (DC Circuit) issued its decision in Sierra Club v. Department of Energy (Freeport),[1] denying Sierra Club’s challenge to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) order authorizing export under the Natural Gas Act of 1938 (NGA) from the proposed Freeport Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal in Freeport, Texas. The decision marks yet another victory in a string of successes for supporters of LNG export.

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On April 14, 2017, the Department of Energy quietly issued an emergency order under Federal Power Act § 202(c) to keep open a power plant slated for shutdown under EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). While DOE has issued FPA § 202(c) emergency orders in the past, this marks the first time that DOE has used such authority to address electric reliability concerns arising from MATS implementation. In doing so, DOE effectively inaugurated the so-called Reliability Safety Valve that was heavily discussed during MATS’ consideration nearly six years ago.
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President Trump made good on one of his key campaign promises on Tuesday, signing an executive order (E.O.) entitled Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth. The long-awaited E.O., which was published in the Federal Register today (82 Fed. Reg. 16093), targets the Obama administration’s key climate policies, including regulations affecting power plants and oil and gas production facilities. More broadly, the E.O. affirms the Trump administration’s priority of ensuring domestically produced energy and economic growth.
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