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So far Andrew Bell has created 38 blog entries.

BLM Finalizes Rule to Lower Annual Charges for Wind and Solar Projects

By |2024-04-18T16:27:11+00:00April 18th, 2024|Federal Lands, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Energy|

On 11 April 2024 the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a prepublication copy of a final rule that will reduce annual rent and capacity fees for wind and solar energy rights-of-way (ROWs), allow noncompetitive leasing in Designated Leasing Areas (DLAs), modify BLM’s approach to prioritizing applications, and make other changes to the application process. The rule will take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Rents and Capacity Fees The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 directs BLM to collect fair market value for use of public lands. Under [...]

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Finalizes Eagle Take General Permit Framework

By |2024-04-17T21:40:59+00:00February 12th, 2024|BGEPA and MBTA, Endangered Species, Wind Energy|

On 12 February 2024, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published long-awaited revisions to its eagle take permitting regulations under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (the Act). The new rule allows qualifying projects such as wind energy facilities and transmission lines to rely on general eagle take permits rather than applying for project-specific, discretionary take authorization. The rule is meant to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of permitting while supporting conservation benefits for bald and golden eagles. The final rule carries forward many of the concepts proposed in the draft rule that [...]

Waters of the U.S. Regulations Revised to Follow Supreme Court’s Sackett Decision

By |2024-04-17T21:41:03+00:00September 12th, 2023|Clean Water Act, Wetland and riparian permitting|

On 8 September 2023, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) published a final rule revising the regulatory definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) in response to the Supreme Court’s May 2023 decision in Sackett v. EPA. Consistent with Sackett, the rule eliminates the “significant nexus test” for all waters and clarifies that wetlands must have a continuous surface connection to WOTUS to qualify for federal Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction. The rule was not circulated for public notice and comment and became effective immediately [...]

USFWS Proposes to Streamline Desert Tortoise Incidental Take

By |2024-04-17T21:41:08+00:00July 25th, 2023|Endangered Species, National Environmental Policy Act|

On 17 July 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a General Conservation Plan (GCP) for the federally threatened Mojave desert tortoise in California. The GCP would streamline the issuance of Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 10 Incidental Take Permits (ITPs) by eliminating the need for individual Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review of each ITP application, a process that can take up to two years. Instead, under the GCP, USFWS would issue ITPs for applications [...]

BLM Proposes Permitting Revisions to Support Renewables

By |2024-04-17T21:41:13+00:00July 19th, 2023|Federal Lands, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy|

On 15 June 2023, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a proposed rule that would partially rewrite the agency’s regulations pertaining to wind and solar energy development of federal public lands. Comments are due by 15 August 2023. The proposed rule would significantly reduce BLM’s annual charges for new and existing wind and solar rights-of-way (ROWs) by using different methodologies to calculate acreage rent and capacity fees and applying additional reductions; allow for noncompetitive leasing within designated leasing areas (DLAs); and make various other changes to the existing regulations that are generally favorable [...]

California Protects Western Joshua Tree, Adopts Permitting Framework

By |2024-04-17T21:41:16+00:00June 29th, 2023|Endangered Species, Solar Energy|

On 27 June 2023, the California legislature passed the Western Joshua Tree Conservation Act, which California Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign into law in a matter of days. The western Joshua tree has been protected as a candidate species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) since 2020, although the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) has repeatedly punted on whether to formally list the species as threatened or endangered. The Western Joshua Tree Conservation Act formally prohibits the take of that species absent a permit. The Act also adopts a refreshingly straightforward permitting [...]

Supreme Court Narrows Scope of the Clean Water Act

By |2024-04-17T21:41:43+00:00June 1st, 2023|National Environmental Policy Act|

In its 25 May 2023 Sackett v. EPA decision, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly and conclusively defined the scope of what constitutes “waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”) under the federal Clean Water Act (“CWA”). The decision ends decades of uncertainty and significantly reduces the reach of the CWA. Under the test adopted by the Sackett Court, “waters” include “only those relatively permanent, standing, or continuously flowing bodies of water forming geographical features that are described in ordinary parlance as streams, oceans, rivers, and lakes.” And WOTUS, in turn, are relatively permanent bodies of water [...]

White House Publishes NEPA Guidance on Climate Change Impacts

By |2024-04-17T21:41:59+00:00January 10th, 2023|National Environmental Policy Act|

On 9 January 2023, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released interim guidance for analyzing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change impacts of major Federal actions undergoing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review. The interim guidance applies to all Federal actions subject to NEPA and builds upon CEQ’s 2016 NEPA guidance repealed by the previous administration. The purpose of the guidance is to provide a uniform approach for Federal agencies to consider both the impacts of a project on climate change and the impacts of climate change on a project. The guidance takes effect [...]

Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Eagle Take General Permits

By |2024-04-17T21:42:04+00:00October 5th, 2022|Renewable Energy|

On 30 September 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule that would create a standardized permitting program for the incidental take of bald and golden eagles by qualifying activities such as wind energy projects and power lines. The proposed rule would amend the Service’s Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) permitting regulations to offer general take permits as an alternative to the project-specific eagle take permits that are available under current regulations. General permits would be valid for five years subject to renewal and would be issued automatically without [...]

Is California’s AB 205 a Renewable Energy Game Changer?

By |2024-04-17T21:42:11+00:00August 25th, 2022|Renewable Energy|

A new, one-stop, 270-day wind, solar, and storage permitting process at the California Energy Commission (CEC) makes California’s Assembly Bill 205 (AB 205) sound promising, but past practice suggests it only may be attractive to developers facing stiff local agency opposition. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 205 into law on 30 June 2022. The law allows developers of wind and solar projects with a capacity of at least 50 megawatts (MW) and storage projects of at least 200 megawatt hours (MWh) to avoid local permitting by opting into the nearly exclusive permitting jurisdiction of [...]

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