FERC, CFTC, and State Energy Law Developments
President-elect Joseph Biden announced on December 15 that he intends to nominate former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to serve as secretary of energy in his new administration. Ms. Granholm previous served as the attorney general of Michigan and as Michigan’s governor from 2003 to 2011.
The US Department of Energy (DOE or Department) finalized a rulemaking proceeding last week that revises its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing procedures pertaining to certain authorizations under the Natural Gas Act (NGA). This update limits DOE’s review of environmental impacts associated with natural gas exports to certain countries; DOE’s review will only consider the environmental effects of marine transportation, which DOE has also determined as not creating a significant environmental impact.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released the Hydrogen Program Plan, a strategic framework that intends to “accelerate research, development, and deployment (RD&D) of hydrogen and related technologies in the United States.”

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on May 1 declaring that the use of bulk-power system equipment supplied by companies controlled by certain foreign nations poses an extraordinary threat to the US power grid. The order observes that the bulk-power system is a valuable target for malicious actors, and any attack on that system could pose serious risks to the economy, public health and safety, and national security.

A notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) titled, “Update to the Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act,” published today by the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), is likely to have far-reaching effects for the energy and public infrastructure sectors, and could facilitate more efficient implementation of energy production/generation projects for all major energy sources (i.e., renewable, fossil, nuclear, and hydroelectric sources) as well as transportation projects.
FERC issued guidance on October 17, 2019, that may significantly aid hydroelectric developers in planning and siting potential projects.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) issued Order No. 486.1 on June 7 prohibiting DOE employees and contractors from participating in the foreign government “talent recruitment programs” of countries designated by the DOE as a “foreign country of risk,” which apparently include China and Russia.
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on December 18, 2018, identifying significant weaknesses in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Pipeline Security Program management and recommending improvements to address those weaknesses.
A new report by the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) concludes that the nation is not prepared to adequately respond to a catastrophic power outage.
Eighteen governors, members of the Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition, issued an open letter on November 9 to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to encourage the development of needed electric transmission that they claim existing federal efforts are insufficient to address.