United States and China to Cooperate on Climate Change and Energy

From our colleague, Jerry Chiang:

The United States and China signed a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) on July 28, 2009, detailing the partnership between the two countries on climate change, energy, and the environment. The MOU commits both countries to reaching a successful international agreement that will address climate and energy issues. It also provides for cooperation in confronting climate change and developing, promoting, and implementing energy efficiency, renewable energy, smart grid technologies, electric vehicles, and other energy technologies.

The United States and China will have ongoing conversations on what each nation is doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to further international climate negotiations in preparation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December.

Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy, remarked at the signing ceremony, “Both of our countries understand the importance of clean energy for our economies and for our security. Both of us understand the imperative of fighting climate change. What the U.S. and China do in the coming decades will help shape the fate of the world . . . . Today’s agreement should send a clear signal that the United States and China are ready to work together on clean energy and climate change.”

Read the complete remarks at the signing ceremony here: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2009a/july/126575.htm. For a funding opportunity on the U.S.-China climate and energy partnership, go here: http://www.stoel.com/showalert.aspx?Show=5653.

FERC and Washington Sign MOU on Hydrokinetic Projects

Late last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) and the State of Washington signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) to coordinate their review of hydrokinetic energy projects in Washington state waters.  The MOU is intended to  reduce some of the regulatory barriers associated with siting and permitting such projects, while also ensuring that projects are undertaken in an environmentally and culturally sensitive manner. 

As described in the MOU, FERC and Washington have pledged to collaborate in the following ways:  (1) notifying each other of potential applicants for a preliminary permit, pilot project license, or license; (2) agreeing upon a schedule for processing license applications that will include milestones and encourage collaboration among various stakeholders; (3) coordinating the environmental reviews of projects proposed in Washington state waters and consulting with stakeholders on the design of applicable studies; and (4) agreeing that if Washington prepares a comprehensive plan with respect to the siting of hydrokinetic projects, in determining whether to approve a project license, FERC will consider whether the project is consistent with the state plan.  Notably, the MOU recognizes that Washington may submit an amendment to its coastal zone management plan to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”) for approval, and that such a plan may identify a limited number of areas within Washington state waters where hydrokinetic projects may be initially located.  Whether NOAA would approve such a plan is unclear. 

Interior and FERC reach agreement on Outer Continental Shelf hydrokinetic projects; Secretary Salazar announces regional meeting details

From our colleague Cherise Oram:

Secretary of Interior (DOI) Ken Salazar and Acting Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Jon Wellinghoff have announced an agreement describing how the two agencies will work together to facilitate permitting renewable energy – particularly ocean wave and current projects – on the outer continental shelf (OCS). The announcement indicates that DOI’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) will retain leasing authority for ocean wave and current projects on the OCS, but that FERC will have the “primary responsibility to manage the licensing of such projects” pursuant to the Federal Power Act (FPA) hydropower licensing provisions. FERC has long asserted that the FPA gives it concurrent jurisdiction with MMS’s leasing authority. The announcement indicates that the agencies will sign a more detailed Memorandum of Understanding describing how the agencies will coordinating their licensing and leasing processes for offshore projects.

This announcement comes just as Secretary Salazar, FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller and others were to testify before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on offshore renewable energy, including the jurisdictional debate between MMS and FERC.

Finally, Secretary Salazar has announced more detailed information on the four regional offshore renewable energy meetings he plans to hold April 6-16 in Atlantic City, New Orleans, Anchorage and San Francisco. For detailed information, see Secretary Salazar’s Invitation to Regional Meetings on Offshore Energy Development.