Legislative and Legal Activity

Nevada Files Petition To Rehear Yucca Mountain Decision

The State of Nevada filed a petition to rehear en banc In re: Aiken County, et. al., v. Federal Regulatory Commission in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The petition responds to a writ of mandamus issued on August 13 by a three-judge panel, in which it ordered the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to complete its review of the Department of Energy’s application to construct a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Petitioners allege that the majority decision failed to address equitable arguments briefed below, and ran contrary to precedent establishing that writs of mandamus should not “automatically” be issued when an agency violates a statute.

FERC Nomination

President Barack Obama’s nominee to chair FERC, Mr. Ron Binz, has run into a substantial roadblock in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Given the stated opposition of Republicans on the committee, coupled with the announcement by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) that he would oppose the nomination, Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) faces a real challenge in moving the nomination to the floor.

This Week’s Hearings

  • Tuesday, October 1: The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing to consider S. 812, legislation to implement an agreement between the United States and Mexico “concerning Transboundary Hydrocarbon Reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico,” and H.R. 1613, the Outer Continental Shelf Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreements Authorization Act, which passed in the House with a 256-171 vote on June 27.
  • Wednesday, October 2: The Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing titled “The North American Energy Infrastructure Act.” The hearing will consider draft legislation circulated by full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX).

Regulatory Activity

State Department Report on U.N. Climate Change

This past week, the State Department presented a report to the United Nations outlining the government’s actions to reduce carbon emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. The administration previously committed to report this information every two years, and the presentation of the report paralleled a three-day tour organized by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who is promoting the agency’s proposed rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions at new fossil-fuel fired power plants.

U.N. Panel Releases Climate Change Report

On Friday, September 27, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Fifth Assessment Report on Climate Change. The report concluded that it is “extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause” for global temperature increases.

This Week’s Events

  • Tuesday, October 1: FERC Commissioner Tony Clark will deliver a keynote address at the North American Gas Forum in Washington, D.C.
  • Wednesday, October 2: FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff will deliver a keynote address at the 2013 Infrastructure Investor Energy Investment and Development Summit in New York City.