U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced that President Trump has implemented tariffs on imported solar cells and modules. The tariffs will be in effect for four years and include 30% tariffs on imported solar cells and modules for the first year, with the tariffs decreasing to 15% by the fourth year. Also, the first 2.5 gigawatts of cells imported each year will be exempt from the tariffs. The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) previously determined that increased imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells were a substantial cause of serious injury to the domestic industry producing competing articles. The USITC later issued remedy recommendations, including tariffs, to be considered by President Trump. For more information about the President’s decision, please see the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative fact sheet here.
The Second Session of the 115th Congress has officially kicked-off what promises to be an interesting and exciting new year. In the link below you will find an update from Troutman Sanders Strategies on the fast-approaching midterm elections and how federal policy decisions will be affected in 2018. The outlook describes the policy issues Congress and the administration may address over the coming months, provide information on members who have left or are leaving Congress, and analyze how those departures will affect leadership positions on congressional committees.
Read the full report here.
On December 22, 2017, the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) reversed course and issued a Memorandum interpreting the scope of criminal liability under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and its applicability to “incidental takings,” which the Memorandum defines as a death or other “take” that “results from an activity, but [that] is not the purpose of that activity.” In short, the Memorandum concludes that criminal liability under the MBTA should not be interpreted to extend to incidental takes, and instead only applies to “affirmative actions that has as their purpose the taking or killing of migratory birds, their nests, or their eggs.” This Memorandum will provide significant needed clarity to renewable energy projects and many other industries that perform activities with the potential to indirectly, and non-purposefully, impact migratory birds during development, construction, or operation. Continue Reading Trump Administration Narrows the Scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
From The Washington Energy Report
On September 29, 2017, United States Department of Energy (“DOE”) Secretary Rick Perry took the unusual step of proposing a rule for final action by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). Secretary Perry’s initiative, a DOE-issued Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) under section 403 of the Department of Energy Organization Act (“DOE Act”) (42 U.S.C. § 7173), urges FERC to act extremely quickly to enact rules requiring regional transmission organizations and independent system operators (“RTOs/ISOs”) to provide just and reasonable rates for “fuel-secure” generation units (e.g., coal and nuclear units). See Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule, Docket No. RM17-3-000, at 4–5 (Sept. 29, 2017) (“DOE NOPR”). Continue Reading Department of Energy Proposes FERC-Authorized Full Cost Recovery for Certain Nuclear and Coal Power Generation
From The Washington Energy Report
On September 19, 2017, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (“ENR Committee”) unanimously advanced FERC nominees Kevin McIntyre and Richard Glick to a full vote on the Senate floor. If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. McIntyre and Mr. Glick will join current FERC Commissioners Cheryl A. LaFleur, Robert F. Powelson, and Chairman Neil Chatterjee to fill all five seats at the Commission. Upon confirmation, Mr. McIntyre will become the new Chairman of FERC. Continue Reading Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Advances FERC Nominees for Confirmation
On May 23 the Trump Administration released its formal FY 2018 budget proposal for congressional approval. The formal budget mirrors many of the aspects of the budget blueprint that the Administration released on March 16—including significant cuts to offices and programs relating to renewable energy.
Overall, the proposal cuts the budgets of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of the Interior. The cuts align with the Administration’s goals of reducing non-defense discretionary spending to fund an increase in defense and infrastructure spending. Continue Reading President Trump Sends $4.1 Trillion Budget to Congress
In the Rose Garden of the White House, President Trump fulfilled a key campaign promise last week by confirming that the United States will begin withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change Agreement (“Agreement”). President Trump cited the Agreement’s potential financial and economic burdens as a reason for the withdrawal. Continue Reading U.S. to Withdraw from Paris Climate Deal
On May 16, 2017, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed Executive Directive 11, which instructs the Department of Environmental Quality to propose regulations that “abate, control, or limit carbon dioxide emissions” from electric power facilities to the State Air Pollution Control Board no later than December 31, 2017. ED 11 requires the regulations to include provisions that allow for (1) “the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide allowances through a multi-state trading program” and (2) “abatement mechanisms providing for a corresponding level of stringency to limits on carbon dioxide emissions imposed in other states with such limits”. For more information, please see the Utility Dive article here and the full text of ED 11 here.
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
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