On December 16, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a final rule amending its regulations governing the dam safety of FERC-licensed hydropower projects under the Federal Power Act. Among other things, the final rule implements two tiers of project safety inspections and codifies FERC’s existing dam safety guidance. The rule will become effective
On August 13, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reissued the Columbia and Lower Snake Rivers Temperature Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which reflects revisions to EPA’s May 18, 2020 Draft TMDL, following a public comment period.
Continue reading EPA Reissues Temperature TMDL for Columbia and Lower Snake Rivers
On March 23, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (the “Second Circuit” or the “Court”) agreed with FERC’s determination that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) had waived its certification authority under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) by failing to act within the one-year statutory deadline. Notably, the Second Circuit held that a state agency cannot revise a certification request date by written agreement with the applicant, thereby altering the one-year statutory deadline for state action. Denying the petitions for rehearing by DEC and the Sierra Club, the Court applied the same reasoning it applied in New York State Dep’t of Env’t Conservation v. FERC (“New York I”), 884 F.3d 450, 455-56 (2d Cir. 2018) (see March 20, 2018 edition of the WER) where the Second Circuit determined that DEC could not unilaterally alter the application date based on when it considered an application complete “because that approach would allow a state agency not only to dictate when the review process can begin but also to delay it indefinitely.” There, to avoid such a subjective standard, the Second Circuit established a bright line rule that the beginning of the review is determined by the date “of receipt of such request.”
Continue reading Second Circuit Sides With FERC – States May Not Agree to Revise the Certification Request Date to Avoid Waiver of its Certification Authority Under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act
On March 18, 2021, FERC issued a Final Rule amending its regulations to establish a one-year period for states, tribes, or other certifying authorities (“Certifying Agencies”) to act on a Clean Water Act (“CWA”) Section 401 water quality certification request for proposed natural gas and liquefied natural gas projects.
Continue reading FERC Establishes Water Quality Certification Waiver Period for Natural Gas Projects
On February 6, U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) introduced a proposal that would attempt to restore northwest salmon populations by breaching four dams managed by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) on the Lower Snake River in Idaho.
Continue reading Significant Hydro-Related Federal Legislation Pending
On Tuesday, October 13, the National Hydropower Association (NHA) announced its partnership with American Rivers, the World Wildlife Fund, and other environmental groups in a “Joint Statement of Collaboration on U.S. Hydropower: Climate Solution and Conservation Challenge.” The Joint Statement, which was facilitated over the last two and a half years through Stanford University’s Uncommon Dialogue process, is a collaborative effort to address climate change by encouraging “the renewable energy and storage benefits of hydropower and the environmental and economic benefits of healthy rivers.”
Continue reading Hydropower Advocates and Environmental Groups Reach Historic Agreement