Legislative Activity

As a result of the November 8 elections, we will have a new Administration and Congress taking office on January 20, 2017. For a comprehensive view of what to expect for the energy, environment and natural resources community, click here for our 2016 Post-Election Analysis.

Also on Tuesday, November 8, a group of 86 Republican members of Congress and 2 Democrats filed an amicus brief urging the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule. The amicus brief is in support of challenges filed by 31 states and 57 municipal and industry petitioners seeking to overturn the rule, which reportedly may expand the definition of “waters of the United States” for the purposes of enforcing the Clean Water Act. The group of 21 Senators and 67 House Members was led by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. The two Democrats that signed on included Senator Joe Manchin III (D-WV) and House Committee on Agriculture Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN). The amicus brief can be found here.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Tuesday, November 15, the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, will hold a hearing on the Federal Land Freedom Act of 2015 (H.R. 866), which would give states the authority to develop all forms of energy resources on federal lands located within their borders, excluding only those areas specifically designated as off-limits.

Regulatory Activity

The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final Solar and Wind Rule that will take effect in early December is an “effort to facilitate solar and wind energy development on public lands.” The agency states that the rule aims to streamline the right-of-way review process and to provide financial incentives to encourage development within designated leasing areas. As such, the rule makes changes to existing policies and regulations governing BLM’s renewable energy program. In addition, the rule will “affect the payments due from all 44 existing wind authorizations and all 22 existing solar authorizations,” and going forward we can expect to see three new solar energy grants per year, two new wind energy grants per year, and one new lease per year. Click here for a fact sheet.