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. Continue Reading Attacks Targeting Oil and Gas Sector Renew Questions About Cybersecurity
On November 22, 2017, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Pruitt signed a notice denying petitions to change the “point of obligation” under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program away from refiners and importers. The notice, which was sent to the Federal Register for publication, provides a broad overview of EPA objections to the petitions. EPA also posted on its website a final decision document explaining its denial in detail. Continue Reading EPA Denies Petitions to Change the RFS “Point of Obligation”
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), 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.
On April 14, 2017, the Department of Energy (DOE) quietly issued an emergency order under Federal Power Act (FPA) § 202(c) to keep open a power plant slated for shutdown under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 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.
President Trump made good on one of his key campaign promises on Tuesday, signing an executive order (E.O.) titled 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.
On October 17, the federal District Court of the Northern District of West Virginia ruled in a lawsuit brought by Murray Energy that EPA had violated Clean Air Act § 321(a)’s requirement that the agency “conduct continuing evaluations of potential loss or shifts of employment” that may result from EPA air regulations. Judge John Preston Bailey, a nominee of President George W. Bush, found that “Congress unmistakably intended to track and monitor the effects of the Clean Air Act and its implementing regulations on employment in order to improve the legislative and regulatory processes,” and that job loss evaluations “may have the effect of convincing the EPA, Congress, and/or the American public to relax or alter EPA’s prior decisions.” At that time, Judge Bailey gave EPA just two weeks to come up with a plan to evaluate those impacts.