Northwest Land Matters

Northwest Land Matters

Developments in Energy, Natural Resources & Environmental, Real Estate, and Land Use Law in the Pacific NW

Category Archives: Development

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Mazama Pocket Gopher Threatened

Posted in Development, Environmental, Land Use, Municipal
The Mazama pocket gopher is officially “threatened” in Thurston and Pierce counties.  After many years of debate, environmental studies, and litigation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) finally announced the listing of four subspecies of Mazama pocket gophers as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as well as the designation of more than… Continue Reading

Federal Agencies Issue Proposed Rule Redefining Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

Posted in Development, Environmental, Land Use, Water Law
Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) released the long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) redefining the federal Clean Water Act’s (CWA) definition of “waters of the United States.”  The NOPR will likely affect project development and operations across the energy, construction, and building sectors. EPA and… Continue Reading

White House Memorandum Aims to Speed Up Infrastructure Permitting

Posted in Development, Land Use, Land Use Planning, Municipal
On May 17, the White House issued a memorandum that directs federal agencies to “do what it takes to cut timelines for breaking ground on major infrastructure projects in half.” The memorandum builds on a March 22, 2012 executive order (Executive Order No. 13604) that aims to facilitate faster regulatory reviews of proposed transportation, water… Continue Reading

New Legislation Aids Environmental Planning/Development

Posted in Development, Growth Management Act, Land Use, Land Use Planning
The Washington State legislature recently passed a bill that incentivizes upfront environmental planning by local governments and increases SEPA predictability for developers.  This legislation will help ensure infrastructure is installed in a timely manner, consistent with adopted standards, and will add clarity for both the developer and the city on the limits and requirements of… Continue Reading

EPA Proposes Best Management Practices to Control Erosion at Construction Sites

Posted in Development, Environmental, Land Use
The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing that construction companies use best management practices in lieu of numerical turbidity limits to control the volume and velocity of stormwater runoff to prevent erosion at construction sites. In the proposed rule, to be published in the April 1 Federal Register, EPA said it will no longer require builders… Continue Reading

Van Ness Feldman Launches Hurricane Sandy Resource Center

Posted in Development, Environmental, Municipal, Real Estate
Van Ness Feldman is helping clients navigate the complicated and often lengthy process of disaster recovery in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.   The Center’s purpose is to help affected businesses secure federal resources for rebuilding and to keep clients up-to-date with the latest post-Sandy developments in the areas of energy, environment, project development, real-estate, federal funding and public policy. Click on the… Continue Reading

King County Creates Right Size Parking Tool

Posted in Development, Land Use, Land Use Planning
King County Metro and a team of partners have completed a new online calculator  to help measure parking demand  for multifamily projects in the Seattle-Bellevue area.  This “Right Size Parking” calculator aims to reduce over-building of parking supply in urban King County based on local and context-sensitive data on parking demand.   According to the Right… Continue Reading

Federal Advisory Committee Releases Draft Climate Assessment Report for Public Review

Posted in Climate Change, Development, Environmental
The National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC), of which VNFGD partner TC Richmond serves as Vice Chair, has concluded that the evidence for a changing climate has strengthened considerably since the last National Climate Assessment report written in 2009. Following extensive review by the National Academies of Sciences and by the public, this newly… Continue Reading

Climate, Energy, & Air Update January 2013

Posted in Climate Change, Development, Environmental, Land Use, Water Law
Our Climate, Energy, & Air Update is intended as a general summary of major policy developments that we judge to be of interest to a broad range of our clients and friends.   This month’s edition features discussion on the following: The D.C. Circuit invalidates the cellulosic biofuel volume requirements for the 2012 Renewable Fuel Standard… Continue Reading

Governor Gregoire Sounds the Alarm on Ocean Acidification

Posted in Climate Change, Development, Environmental
On Nov. 27, 2012, Governor Gregoire’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification released its report outlining recommended actions that Washington State can take in response to ocean acidification. These actions include advocating for a comprehensive strategy to reduce carbon emissions and reducing land-based contributors to acidification such as nitrogen pollution from farms, lawns, and urban… Continue Reading

Sound Transit Receives Environmental Excellence Award

Posted in Development, Environmental, Land Use, Water Law
Washington State Department of Ecology  awarded VNFGD client Sound Transit the Environmental Excellence Award for its role in the Qwuloolt estuary restoration project. The Environmental Excellence Award is the Department of Ecology’s highest award for recognizing environmental excellence in the state of Washington. The Qwuloolt project will restore about 380 acres of unused farmland into a… Continue Reading

Federal Funding Opportunities for Natural Resources, Agriculture, Alternative Energy, Water, and Energy Efficiency

Posted in Development, Energy Efficiency/Sustainability, Environmental, Land Use, Land Use Planning, Municipal, Water Law
Six opportunities totaling over $16.25 million in federal financial assistance were released this week, soliciting proposals in the major program areas of: Agriculture Alternative and Renewable Energy Energy Efficiency Public Lands and Natural Resources Water Van Ness Feldman’s Federal Funding Resource Center is an online information tool designed to inform our clients and friends about key energy-,… Continue Reading

Federal Government Releases Roadmap for Solar Energy Development on Public Lands

Posted in Development, Energy Efficiency/Sustainability, Environmental, Land Use, Land Use Planning
The Department of the Interior, in partnership with the Department of Energy, will publish the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for solar energy development in six southwestern states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. Key elements include: an initial set of 17 Solar Energy Zones on 285,000 acres across 6 Western States; a process… Continue Reading

Cascade Water Alliance: First Entity in Washington to Become A Joint Municipal Utilities Services Corporation

Posted in Development, Land Use, Municipal, Water Law
On July 12, 2012, Van Ness Feldman GordonDerr client Cascade Water Alliance  successfully converted to a municipal corporation (a Joint Municipal Utility Services Authority) from a non-profit Watershed Partnership.  Cascade, formed originally as a non-profit watershed management partnership, realized it lacked authorities of other utilities and had many areas of confusion, such as how to handle… Continue Reading

White House Unveils Plan for Accelerating Federal Permitting of Infrastructure

Posted in Development, Land Use, Land Use Planning
The White House has released a plan for implementing a March 22, 2012 executive order (EO 13604) that directed Federal agencies to streamline procedures for approving energy, transportation, and other infrastructure projects.  The plan calls on all Federal agencies involved in approving infrastructure projects to publish by July 31 a list of their review and… Continue Reading

BLM Releases Draft Impact Management Plans and Design Criteria for Solar Projects

Posted in Climate Change, Development, Energy Efficiency/Sustainability, Environmental, Land Use
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages approximately 264 million acres of Federal lands around the country, has issued two draft documents in support of BLM’s recent push to expedite permitting of utility-scale solar power projects in six Southwestern states.  One of the documents is a set of standard design criteria for solar projects,… Continue Reading

Federal District Court Denies Request for Preliminary Injunction To Halt The Sale Of Flood Insurance and Floodplain Map Revisions In The Puget Sound

Posted in Development, Environmental, Land Use, Municipal, Real Estate
On April 12, 2012, Judge Martinez, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington, issued a decision denying the National Wildlife Federation’s request for a preliminary injunction to halt the sale of flood insurance and floodplain map revisions in the Puget Sound stating that the NWF failed to demonstrate likely environmental harm absent the requested injunction.… Continue Reading

Idaho Passes Law that Prevents Local Governments from Blocking Oil and Gas Operations

Posted in Development, Environmental, Land Use, Municipal
Idaho Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter signed House Bill 464, which prevents cities and counties in the state from banning oil and gas drilling operations.  The bill would still allow local governments to pass “reasonable local ordinances” that regulate zoning and planning issues related to oil and gas operations, while all other activities would be… Continue Reading

Van Ness Feldman Launches Federal Funding Resource Center

Posted in Climate Change, Development, Energy Efficiency/Sustainability, Environmental, Land Use, Municipal
We are pleased to announce the launch of our Federal Funding Resource Center – – an online information tool designed to inform our clients and friends about key energy-, environment-, and resource-related federal funding opportunities across a range of federal agencies including the Departments of Energy, Defense, Agriculture, and the Interior. The Federal Funding… Continue Reading

Obama Issues Executive Order on Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects

Posted in Development, Land Use
On March 22, 2012 President Obama issued Executive Order 13604  calling for improvements to federal permitting and review processes for infrastructure projects.  The memorandum recognizes the U.S. must have “fast, reliable, resilient, and environmentally sound means of moving people, goods, energy, and information” to maintain the Nation’s competitive edge.  The Order creates a framework for… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Requests Public Comment on Potential Improvements to Endangered Species Act

Posted in Development
March 15, 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) requesting public comment on potential improvements to its Endangered Species Act (ESA) implementing regulations, policies, and guidance to better recognize voluntary conservation actions that benefit species.  Specifically, FWS has concluded that the present ESA regulations, guidance, implementing… Continue Reading

King County Streamlines Rules for Wetland Developments

Posted in Development, Environmental, Land Use, Municipal
King County’s long developing program to accept cash payments for projects in need of wetland mitigation is expected to be formally approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers next week.  Under this program, King County takes on the obligation to build acceptable wetland mitigation and the Corps relieves the party filling the wetland and… Continue Reading

New Report Collects Research on Designing Buildings to Resist Climate Change Impacts

Posted in Climate Change, Development, Energy Efficiency/Sustainability
A comprehensive new report by the U.S. Green Building Council and University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning evaluates research on the likely impacts of climate change on the built environment, and identifies strategies for adapting to those impacts while upholding sustainable design principles.  Among other things, the report notes that most buildings… Continue Reading