Energy & Environmental Law Blog

Energy & Environmental Law Blog

Analyzing the critical energy and environmental issues of the day

Category Archives: Northwest

Subscribe to Northwest RSS Feed

Climate change regulation starts to take shape in Washington State

Posted in Climate Change, Northwest
In 2015, the Washington Legislature failed to act on Governor Jay Inslee’s cap-and-trade proposal to limit the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.  Since then, all branches of Washington State government, as well as the people themselves, have engaged in what looks like a massive brainstorming session on how to limit Washington’s greenhouse gas… Continue Reading

Oregon PUC outlines ambitious schedule for implementation of Clean Electricity programs

Posted in Electric Power, Northwest, Renewables, Rulemakings
At an April 21 workshop, the Oregon Public Utility Commission presented its timeline for implementing a variety of programs in the wake of the state’s recently passed and far-ranging energy bill, SB 1547 (the “Oregon Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan”).  Most widely known for its provisions increasing renewable portfolio standards and phasing out coal-fired… Continue Reading

When is a reward a bribe? OSHA policy limits workplace safety incentive programs

Posted in California, Federal, Health and Safety, Northwest
Years ago, my employer gave employees a coaster every quarter that the group had no OSHA reportable incidents. Now it would have been in violation to have such a program. Despite criticism from workers compensation carriers who recognize the benefits of incentive programs, OSHA has reiterated its policy and it continues to enforce against companies… Continue Reading

Children’s Crusade to Combat Climate Change Continues

Posted in Climate Change, Litigation, Northwest
A federal magistrate judge in Oregon has kept alive the dreams of a group of young plaintiffs—aided by environmental advocacy groups—to compel government action against climate change.  Like a similar case brought by the same plaintiffs a few years ago in state court, discussed below, the federal case seeks a declaration that government inaction violates… Continue Reading

Oregon Legislature Passes Sweeping Energy Bill

Posted in Northwest, Renewables
The Oregon Legislature on Wednesday passed a sweeping and contentious bill that signals significant changes for the state’s energy industry.  Senate Bill 1547, the final home for the “Oregon Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan,” touches many areas of the industry. The aspects of the legislation that are receiving the most press are the requirements… Continue Reading

Take Two! Frogs, Water, and the Endangered Species Act in Oregon

Posted in Land Use, Litigation, Northwest
In late December we reported on a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (“Center”) that alleges the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (“BOR”) is violating the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) through its operation and maintenance of the Crane Prairie and Wickiup dams and reservoirs in the Upper Deschutes River Basin. On January 11, 2016,… Continue Reading

Frogs, Water, and the Endangered Species Act in Oregon

Posted in Land Use, Litigation, Northwest
Oregon spotted frogs and their habitats are being harmed because of the way the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (“BOR”) operates and maintains some reservoirs in the Upper Deschutes River Basin, so asserts the Center for Biological Diversity (“the Center”) in a lawsuit filed against the BOR on December 18, 2015 in federal district court in… Continue Reading

Pacific Northwest Water Wars

Posted in Northwest, Water Law
It may come as a surprise that people fight over water in soggy Oregon and Washington.  To be sure, we have not experienced the same level of conflict over competing water needs as our neighbors in the southwest, but in fact the conflicts are there and the stakes are high. Most senior water rights in… Continue Reading

State of Alaska Continues Slow Progress in Adjudicating Instream Flow Water Rights

Posted in Northwest, Water Law
The State of Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continued its slow and steady progress to issue the first instream flow water right to a non-governmental organization with a February 18, 2015 notice requesting comments on an instream flow water right application by the Chuitna Citizens Coalition Inc. (Chuitna). Parties wishing to comment on the… Continue Reading

Washington State Producers and Retailers of Mercury-Containing Lights Face New Regulations

Posted in Health and Safety, Natural Resources, Northwest
The New Year brought with it new obligations for any company that produces or sells mercury-containing lights in (or into) Washington State.  As of January 1, 2015, the State’s recycling program and corresponding funding mechanism is fully operational, and participation is mandatory for producers of mercury-containing lights. While the statute and regulations impose unclear requirements… Continue Reading

OSHA Rules for Injury Reporting Change

Posted in California, Federal, Northwest, Rulemakings
Starting January 1, 2015, OSHA rules will require companies nation-wide to report all work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations and eye losses within 24 hours.  Oregon is one of 6 states that already require employers to report single in-patient hospitalizations.  Previously, employers in most other states were only required to report in-patient hospitalizations if three or more… Continue Reading

Oregon Carbon Tax Study Released

Posted in Climate Change, NERC, Northwest
Today the Oregon Legislative Revenue Office released a report on the economic and emissions impacts of a carbon tax in the state.  The report was prepared by the Northwest Economic Research Center (NERC) at Portland State University.  The NERC study was funded by a $200,000 appropriation approved during the 2013 session under SB 306. The NERC… Continue Reading

Washington’s Courts Deliver Possible Double Whammy Limiting Insurers’ Ability to Use a Late Tender Defense to Delay Providing a Defense

Posted in Litigation, Northwest
Liability insurance policies require notice be provided to the insurer to allow the insurers time to adequately investigate and respond to claims.   An insured’s failure to provide notice to its carrier can result in the insured losing the benefits of its policies. Some courts have deemed an insured’s failure to provide notice within time periods… Continue Reading

Grant Recipients Likely to Accept a 50 Percent Share of Cleanup Costs Under New Washington Grant Funding Rule

Posted in CERCLA, Northwest
The new Department of Ecology (Ecology) grant funding rules, which are expected to go into effect in September 2014, will change the way grant recipients resolve contribution claims against other liable parties under the Model Toxics Control Act or CERCLA.  The new rule provides that grant recipients (e.g., cities, counties, Ports, etc.)  may use proceeds… Continue Reading

Anticipating Washington State’s New Industrial Stormwater General Permit

Posted in Northwest, Rulemakings, Water Law
The Washington Department of Ecology is in the process of renewing the current Industrial Stormwater General Permit (ISGP), which is set to expire on January 1, 2015.  Current permit holders will need to reapply for continued coverage by July 1, 2014.  The 2015 version of the ISGP will mean little or minor changes for some… Continue Reading

THE PACIFIC COAST ACTION PLAN ON CLIMATE AND ENERGY – WILL IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Posted in Climate Change, Environmental Quality, Northwest
By Craig Gannett and Mark Perlis Late last month, the Governors of California, Oregon, and Washington joined with the Premier of British Columbia to sign a Pacific Coast Climate Action Plan on Climate and Energy (PCAP).  Like its ill-fated predecessor, the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), the PCAP attempts to fill the void created by Congress’ failure… Continue Reading

Ecology to hold public meetings on updates to human health criteria in Washington’s water quality standards

Posted in Environmental Quality, Health and Safety, Natural Resources, Northwest, Water Law
On September 12 and 16, 2013, Ecology will hold public meetings at its headquarters in Lacey, Washington regarding its rulemaking to update Washington’s surface water quality standards.  The rule making will set new human health criteria and implement regulatory tools to help dischargers comply with water quality standards. … Continue Reading

Those Dam Polluters!

Posted in Electric Power, Environmental Quality, Health and Safety, Natural Resources, Northwest, Oil & Gas, Water Law
The Columbia and Snake River federal network of dams, and the abundance of low cost electricity it produces, has long been the cornerstone of the Pacific Northwest manufacturing economy.  It has also supported another industry—the legions of lawyers fighting over the environmental effects.  The latest iteration is an attack brought by Columbia Riverkeepers against the… Continue Reading

Fish and Wildlife Service says No to Alaska’s request for oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Posted in Federal, Land Use, Natural Resources, Northwest, Oil & Gas
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (“ANWR”) is in the news again.  This refuge, set in the midst of some of the nation’s richest petroleum deposits, has been a source of contention and controversy since the passage of the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act (“ANILCA”) in 1980.  That Act greatly expanded the size of ANWR,… Continue Reading

City of Seattle and King County Agree to Major Upgrades to Settle Discharge Violations

Posted in Environmental Quality, EPA, Northwest, Water Law
To settle an enforcement action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the State of Washington (“State”), King County and the City of Seattle have agreed to complete major upgrades to their local sewage and combined stormwater collection, piping and treatment systems to address allegedly illegal discharges.  In addition, the County and City have… Continue Reading

Regulatory Issues Cause ConocoPhillips to Join Shell Oil in Suspending its Drilling Program in Arctic Waters off Alaska

Posted in Northwest, Oil & Gas
Today, ConocoPhillips announced that it is suspending its drilling program in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska for 2014, due to uncertainty regarding the changing regulatory requirements. “While we are confident in our own expertise and ability to safely conduct offshore Arctic operations, we believe that more time is needed to ensure… Continue Reading