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Energy and Natural Resources Practice  

Businesses generating electricity from hydropower or natural gas, and companies involved in the use of natural resources, require experienced legal counsel to navigate the increasingly complex web of government agencies and regulations overseeing these activities and resources. Our attorneys provide expert advice and litigation support for matters related to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Department of Fish & Game, and the various non-governmental organizations with interests and oversight responsibilities related to energy and natural resources. We are particularly experienced in areas of environmental law and land use to assist hydroelectric relicense applicants with the FERC process. The Firm has counseled utilities in hydroelectric relicensing, compliance with the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Federal Power Act, Clean Water Act, and California Environmental Quality Act, and other similar statutes at all levels of government. We also advise our clients regarding various natural gas pipeline matters and disputes.

Businesses generating electricity using hydropower, and other businesses using or based on natural resources face many challenges today. The generation of electricity under state and federal government oversight and its regulation continues, while competitive market based factors are introduced into operational and business decisions. Non-governmental organizations, as well as state and federal agencies, increasingly advocate for a wide range of environmental protections, water quality, recreational uses, and endangered species protections.

For example, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is facing a large number of relicensing proceedings in the Western States during the coming decade. The agency is attempting to streamline its relicensing process to meet this demand, while providing a necessary forum for all interested and affected parties to have a voice before a new hydropower license is issued. Licensees are trying to find ways to operate in the relicensing process while keeping relicensing costs within reasonable bounds.

Businesses using or relying on natural resources need expert legal counsel to achieve their goals and to navigate through the complex federal and state structures that governs their operations. Freeland Cooper & Foreman LLP provides legal services to hydropower and other natural resources based companies. The Firm provides counseling and litigation support for matters related to the Federal Power Act (FPA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), Clean Water Act (CWA), California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other environmental, land use and natural resource management statutes at all levels of government.

We have experience with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the California State Water Resources Control Board, the California Department of Fish and Game, and the various non-governmental organizations with similar interests.

FERC Licensing and Compliance

The Firm is one of the few law firms on the West Coast with practice lawyers focusing on FERC licensing and compliance issues. The FERC hydrolicensing process is undergoing major changes in anticipation of the 239 projects, 389 plants, and 19,500 MW that are scheduled for relicensing by the year 2010. Few law firms have our knowledge and experience with FERC’s new Alternative Licensing Process (ALP). We are also experienced in areas of environmental law and land use to assist hydro relicense applicants. Here are some examples of our experience in the hydropower and energy generation business:

  • Acting as relicensing counsel for Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s (PG&E) Mokelumne River (Project 137), Spring Gap/Stanislaus River (Project 2130) and Donnells-Curtis Transmission Line (Project 2118).
  • Preparing agreements for coordinated and cooperative relicensing of PG&E’s Projects 2130 and 2118 with the owners of the other FERC-licensed projects on the same river system.
  • Working with state and federal resource agencies, NGO’s and FERC in a “collaborative relicensing process” to establish a reasonable and acceptable set of Forest Service 4(e) conditions to be included in a new hydropower license.
  • Developing license guidelines and conditions dealing with whitewater boating, instream flows and related recreational liability issues.
  • Providing legal counsel for hydro operations at PG&E’S Drum-Spaulding project with recent emphasis on legal issues regarding easements for the flood plain, and vegetation maintenance of the flood plain and channel, both of which arise because of rapid residential development in the vicinity.
  • Developing policies and procedures for working with the Forest Service and local county law enforcement agencies to enforce parking and other safety procedures for recreational users near hydro facilities.

Endangered Species

The Firm has experience in counseling clients and litigating matters under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other state and federal laws regulating fish and wildlife in the United States. We work with state and federal agencies on consultations, representing clients in negotiations, and prosecuting and defending lawsuits brought under the ESA. We work on ESA matters for Pacific Gas & Electric Company regarding its FERC licensed project facilities and transmission lines.

National Environmental Policy Act

Since its enactment in 1969, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has had a huge impact on private and public projects that involve federal permitting, funding or participation. Our lawyers have handled NEPA matters, such as successfully defending the City of Phoenix in a citizen’s lawsuit seeking an injunction under NEPA to stop a construction project.

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