Northwest Land Matters

Northwest Land Matters

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

Category Archives: Environmental

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White House Releases Third U.S. National Climate Assessment

Posted in Climate Change, Energy, Environmental, Uncategorized
On May 6, the White House released the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment, the most authoritative and comprehensive source of scientific information to date about climate-change impacts across all U.S. regions and on critical sectors of the economy. The report, co-authored by VNF Partner, TC Richmond, is a key deliverable of President Obama’s Climate Action… Continue Reading

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

Tidal-power License Issued for Snohomish County PUD

Posted in Energy, Energy Efficiency/Sustainability, Environmental
On March 20th, Van Ness Feldman client, Snohomish County PUD, received a long-awaited license by the federal government to construct the world’s first grid-connected, tidal-energy project using underwater turbines to produce electricity. “Tidal energy offers enormous potential as a renewable energy supply.  This Federal license represents a key milestone in the effort to develop the… Continue Reading

Congressman Norm Dicks Joins Van Ness Feldman

Posted in Environmental, Municipal
Congressman Norm Dicks has joined Van Ness Feldman as Senior Policy Counsel. Working with the firm’s Washington, DC and Seattle offices, Dicks will apply his years in public service to his new role, consulting with clients on a wide range of public policy, strategic, and regulatory issues, particularly those in the environmental sector.  He will… Continue Reading

Federal District Court Orders Washington State Agencies to Repair Culverts that Block Fish Passage in Violation of Tribes’ Treaty Fishing Right

Posted in Environmental
On March 29th, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a permanent injunction requiring certain State of Washington (“State”) agencies to provide and maintain fish passage for salmon at numerous culverts under State-owned roads.  United States v. Washington, Case No. 70-9213 (W.D. Wash., Mar. 29, 2013).  The court imposed the injunction… 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

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

Ecology Director’s Statement Regarding Supreme Court Ruling on Environmental Cleanup Funding Source

Posted in Environmental
This week, Washington Department of Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant issued the following statement on a state Supreme Court ruling upholding a voter-approved funding source for environmental protection and cleanups in Washington state. “We are pleased that the Supreme Court has upheld a law that Washington voters passed more than two decades ago to make sure that… 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

Jim Ziglar Appointed to Water Science and Technology Board of the National Academies National Research Council

Posted in Environmental, Water Law
Te Honorable James (Jim) W. Ziglar, Senior Counsel at Van Ness Feldman, has been named a member of the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Academies National Research Council. Mr. Ziglar, a Senior Counsel with the firm, has over 40 years of experience in law, finance, management, and public policy. He provides strategic business… 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

VNF Introduces Launches Environmental Appellate Litigation Tracking Tool

Posted in Climate Change, Environmental, Water Law
With the sheer volume of environmental litigation currently in progress that will impact the regulated community, Van Ness Feldman has developed an Environmental Appellate Litigation Tracking Tool  which follows developments in the most significant federal appellate environmental cases in the areas of air quality, water quality, and waste.  We aspire to update these litigation matrices… Continue Reading

Natural Resources Reform Bill Signed Into Law

Posted in Environmental, Growth Management Act, Land Use
In April, I provided a summary of SSB 6406, dubbed the Natural Resources Reform Bill.  This Washington State legislation made changes to natural resource and environmental review and permitting, and was passed by the legislature on April 10, 2012.  On May 2, 2012 Governor Gregoire signed the bill into law, but added a signing statement  clarifying one… 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

DOI Proposes Extended ESA Take Permits to Accommodate Energy Projects

Posted in Climate Change, Environmental, Land Use
The Department of the Interior (DOI) has proposed to extend the duration of Endangered Species Act (ESA) “take” permits allowing for non-purposeful disturbance or harm to golden and bald eagles.  If finalized, the rule would extend the term of such permits to thirty years, on the grounds that long-term authorizations are necessary for the financing… 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