Our colleagues in the tax practice have published a LawFlash detailing the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which includes the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020. The act contains tax provisions to provide direct relief to individuals, but also includes tax benefits for various industries, including the “green” energy and technology industries.
FERC, CFTC, and State Energy Law Developments
CFTC Releases Interim Report into April WTI Futures Price Collapse; Commissioner Berkovitz Issues Scathing Critique
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) recently issued an interim report by CFTC Staff on the April 2020 price collapse of the West Texas Intermediate light sweet crude oil futures contract (WTI Futures Contract).
Following the declaration of a global pandemic due to the widespread transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the issuance of shutdown and/or stay-at-home directives cascaded from commercial enterprises and state and local governments across the United States. During this period of extreme disruption to daily routine, the continuity and integrity of energy operations were necessary to ensure that the massive shift to home-based life could exist with minimal business disruption.
The US Department of the Treasury issued a letter on May 7 stating that it plans to modify the continuity safe harbor for both the production tax credit (PTC) and the energy investment tax credit (ITC). Under the current law, taxpayers seeking to claim a PTC for electricity produced from qualifying facilities or an ITC for qualifying energy property must generally begin construction on the qualifying facility or property by specified dates.
In response to President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a notice that it does not intend to take enforcement action related to certain new gas pipeline safety regulations with which gas pipeline operators must comply by July 1, 2020.
CISA Expands Classification of ‘Essential’ Energy Workers, Seeks Their Exemption from Local Orders Restricting Movement
The US Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued Version 3.0 of its guidance on April 17 on identifying essential critical infrastructure workers amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In an order issued on April 17, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) agreed to defer implementation of certain cybersecurity and operational reliability standards administered by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) that had important compliance milestones later this year, including the suite of supply chain risk management standards that have been under development for several years and were set to take effect on July 1. The move by FERC is intended to provide some measure of relief from impending compliance burdens and to allow electric utilities to focus their resources on responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Although the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act signed into law on March 27 does not expressly provide relief for energy companies, many of its provisions impact energy sector companies. Read our recent LawFlash to learn more.
PHMSA Notice to Operators: Stay of Enforcement and Enforcement Discretion for Certain Requirements Due to COVID-19
In response to the US president’s declaration of a national emergency due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, on March 20 the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a notice to operators stating that, effective immediately and until further notice or modification, PHMSA does not intend to take any enforcement action with respect to operator qualification (OQ) and control room management (CRM) requirements, and will consider exercising enforcement discretion regarding certain drug testing requirements.
Our colleagues have prepared a LawFlash addressing the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s March 25 extension of certain filing periods and current views regarding disclosure considerations due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.