NPM Tax Valid Under U.S. Constitution, Says Texas Appellate Court

On March 24, 2017, the Third Court of Appeals of Texas decided Hegar, et al. v. Texas Small Tobacco Coalition, et al., No. 03-13-00753-CV. The court held that a tax on nonparticipating or non-settling manufacturers (“NPMs”) did not violate either the Equal Protection or the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The law at issue, Subchapter V to Chapter 161 of the Texas Health & Safety Code (“Subchapter V”), taxed NPMs remaining outside of the Master Settlement Agreement (“MSA”) at approximately $0.55 per cigarette pack and companies subsequently joining the MSA at approximately $0.15 per pack. The case was of particular interest because Texas is not a party to the MSA, yet the MSA’s distinctions were the bases for Subchapter V’s. Continue Reading NPM Tax Valid Under U.S. Constitution, Says Texas Appellate Court

by Brian Harms and Emily Prince

On Thursday, March 16, the Trump Administration released its 2018 budget blueprint, which shifts away from many of the Obama Administration’s chief initiatives as related to clean energy. While not surprising, the new Administration’s approach to the 2018 budget is to cut spending and reduce regulations.  The proposal demonstrates that goal and “the Administration’s commitment to reasserting the proper role of what has become a sprawling Federal Government.” The White House will release the full budget in May, but this blueprint provides some guidance on the Administration’s direction moving forward.

The U.S. Department of Energy budget blueprint would shrink the overall budget 5.6% from 2017 levels to $20.8 billion. While the overall budget would decrease, Trump proposed an 11% ($1.4 billion) increase to the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees nuclear weapons and falls within the umbrella of the DOE. Accordingly, the 5.6% overall cut may be a bit misleading.   Continue Reading President Trump Releases Budget Blueprint Including Cuts to Clean Energy Research and Development

Originally posted on Troutman Sanders’ Washington Energy Report

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According to various reports, President Donald Trump plans to appoint Kevin McIntyre as FERC Chairman, and Neil Chatterjee and Rob Powelson as FERC Commissioners, to fill the three vacant Commissioner seats at FERC. All three potential appointees are Republicans, whereas the current Commissioners—Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur and Commissioner Collette Honorable—are Democrats. Continue Reading Reports Suggest President Trump Plans to Appoint McIntyre as FERC Chairman, Chatterjee and Powelson as FERC Commissioners

Originally posted on Washington Energy Report

On February 24, 2017, the Balancing Authority of Northern California (“BANC”) – acting on behalf of its member, Sacramento Municipal Utility District – entered into an Implementation Agreement with the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”) to participate in CAISO’s western Energy Imbalance Market (“EIM”). BANC had announced in October of 2016 that it would begin negotiations on behalf of its members to develop the Implementation Agreement. Going forward, participation in the EIM will require participating transmission service providers in the BANC balancing authority area to revise their open access transmission tariffs to reflect CAISO’s rules and procedures governing the EIM and to execute service agreements associated with the EIM. Continue Reading BANC Enters California Energy Imbalance Market

This article was originally posted on Washington Energy Report

On March 2, 2017, the U.S. Senate voted 62-37 to confirm Rick Perry as the Secretary of the Department of Energy (“DOE”). Secretary Perry will succeed Dr. Ernest Moniz. Prior to his confirmation as Secretary of the DOE, Secretary Perry was Governor of Texas from December 2000 to January 2015, qualifying as the longest-serving governor in Texas history.

After being sworn in, Secretary Perry stated, “It is an honor and privilege to serve as the Secretary of the [DOE]. As Secretary, I will advocate and promote American energy in all forms.”

A record of the vote on Secretary Perry’s confirmation is available here. The DOE’s press release on the swearing in of Secretary Perry is available here.

Originally posted in Troutman Sanders Washington Energy Report

On February 24, 2017, President Donald Trump issued a Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda (“Executive Order”) which requires the heads of agencies to designate an agency official as the “Regulatory Reform Officer” within 60 days, and establish “Regulatory Reform Task Forces.” The objective of each Regulatory Reform Task Force will be to “evaluate existing regulations and make recommendations to the agency head regarding their repeal, replacement, or modification, consistent with applicable law.” Continue Reading President Trump Orders Agencies to Create “Regulatory Reform Task Forces”