On February 12, 2024, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS or the Service) published a final rule revising the regulations governing the issuance of eagle take permits (ETPs) under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. 89 Fed. Reg. 9920 (Feb. 12, 2024). The rule revises certain requirements for individual permits – referred to as “specific” permits in the rule – and creates a new program of general permits covering certain activities. Activities for which general permits will be available include (i) incidental take of bald and golden eagles associated with qualifying wind energy projects, (ii) incidental take of bald and golden eagles associated with power line infrastructure, (iii) certain activities that may cause bald eagle disturbance take, and (iv) certain categories of bald eagle nest take. We previously reported on the proposed version of the rule, which was published in September 2022.Continue Reading USFWS Issues Rule Revising Eagle Take Permit Regulations and Establishing General Permits for Take of Bald and Golden Eagles at Wind Projects and for Certain Other Activities
For federal agencies seeking to complete rulemaking before the end of the Biden Administration, the clock is ticking, and a number of important deadlines are fast approaching. One of the most important deadlines could be the Congressional Review Act’s (CRA’s) so-called “look-back” provision.
The CRA mandates agencies provide Congress an opportunity to review and possibly overturn rules. To overturn a rule, both houses of Congress must pass a joint resolution of disapproval, and it must be signed by the President. If a CRA resolution is enacted, it invalidates the rule in question and bars the agency from issuing another rule in “substantially the same form” as the disapproved rule. 5 U.S.C. § 801(b)(2). If a rule has already taken effect by the time it is set aside via the CRA, it will no longer be in effect and “shall be treated as though such rule had never taken effect.” 5 U.S.C. § 801(f).Continue Reading Federal Agencies Face Looming Congressional Review Act Deadline
On September 8, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a final rule in the Federal Register to amend the Agencies’ January 2023 “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) definition. 88 Fed. Reg. 61,964 (Sep. 8, 2023). According to the Agencies, these amendments conform that definition to the Supreme Court’s Sackett decision.
Continue Reading Agencies Issue Final Rule to Amend the 2023 “Waters of the United States” Definition
On August 14, EPA published its proposed modifications to regulations establishing the requirements for a state or tribe to assume the Clean Water Act (CWA) section 404 permit program, including necessary state program elements, EPA responsibilities (e.g., approval and oversight of assumed programs), and requirements for review, modification, and withdrawal of state programs. 88 Fed. Reg. 55,276 (Aug. 14, 2023). The proposal provides helpful clarifications but does not resolve a number of key issues faced by states considering assumption and by permittees in those States. Continue Reading EPA Proposes to Modify Regulations to Facilitate State Assumption of CWA Section 404 Permitting
On May 17, 2023, the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted summary judgment to federal government defendants and intervenor Vineyard Wind in the first of four lawsuits pending in that court challenging the development of Vineyard Wind, a 62-turbine offshore wind project being built off the coast of Massachusetts.
Continue Reading Federal Judge Rules for Vineyard Wind in First of Four Pending Actions
On March 21, 2023, the US Department of Energy (DOE) released three reports as part of its ““Pathways to Commercial Liftoff,” articulating its vision on how the private sector and policymakers can reach full-scale commercialization for advanced nuclear, clean hydrogen, and long-duration energy storage.
Continue Reading DOE Identifies Pathways for the Large-Scale Commercialization of Clean Energy Technologies
On February 22, 2023, the US Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Energy Management (BOEM) released its first-ever proposed notice for an offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico.
Continue Reading First Offshore Wind Energy Lease Sales in the Gulf of Mexico
On January 30, 2023, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Energy Management published its proposed Renewable Energy Modernization Rule – which is intended to update and modernize the regulations governing wind energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) – in the Federal Register, opening a 60-day comment period.
Continue Reading BOEM Publishes Proposed Renewable Energy Modernization Rule
On January 12, 2023, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Energy Management (BOEM) announced the signature of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) addressing the regulations governing wind energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). As BOEM notes in the NOPR, the first OCS renewable energy regulations were promulgated in 2009 by the Minerals Management Service, the predecessor to BOEM. Through the NOPR, BOEM intends to modernize its regulations by implementing reforms identified by the agency and recommended by stakeholders since 2010, when BOEM was established. Continue Reading BOEM Proposes New Regulations for Offshore Wind
Yesterday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) (together, the Agencies) published a final rule revising the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) subject to federal regulation and permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act (CWA). This rule is the latest attempt by the Agencies to craft a durable rule defining WOTUS. The new rule, which largely mirrors the 2021 proposal, asserts a broader geographic scope of federal jurisdiction than the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR). In particular, the Agencies adopt the broadest possible interpretation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Rapanos (through incorporation of both the plurality’s “relatively permanent” test and Justice Kennedy’s “significant nexus” test). The final rule would, for the first time, codify aspects of the Agencies’ 2008 Rapanos Guidance and would rely on the significant nexus test’s case-by-case approach for evaluating jurisdiction for tributaries, wetlands, and other waters. The Agencies released the final rule while the Supreme Court considers the scope of CWA authority over a major category of WOTUS, “adjacent wetlands,” in Sackett v. EPA, and the Supreme Court could hand down a decision in the coming months that could require changes to the rule.Continue Reading EPA and Army Corps Issue New “WOTUS” Rule While Supreme Court Considers Jurisdiction Over Adjacent Wetlands