Regulatory & Legislative

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) builds upon recent incentives for investment in hydrogen by encouraging producers and end users of clean hydrogen to continue developing clean hydrogen infrastructure. This article provides an overview of the incentives and how they may be accessed.

The Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) recently circulated a Proposed Rule on Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation (“2022 Proposal”). This iteration, as BLM acknowledges, is a revamp of its fraught 2016 attempt to issue a similar rule ostensibly aimed at reducing natural gas waste on federal and Indian leases (“2016 Rule”). The 2016 Rule was ultimately struck down two years ago as unlawful. To the Wyoming federal court, the 2016 Rule sought to regulate air emissions—a role reserved for the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the states—rather than prevent the waste of resources through flaring and other means. Undeterred, the Biden Administration believes it has learned from and theoretically fixed the flaws in the 2016 Rule through the 2022 Proposal. The 2022 Proposal claims to focus on reducing operator costs and generating taxpayer revenue. This is a shift from the 2016 Rule, which relied on the benefits from reduced carbon emissions to justify its issuance. Nevertheless, the question to many stakeholders remains: does the 2022 Proposal still exceed BLM’s authority, or has the agency done enough to win a future legal challenge?

The Public Utility Commission of Texas (Commission) plays a vital role in regulating the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) wholesale market, and retail energy markets throughout all of Texas. This article identifies key projects and initiatives at the Commission that are ongoing in 2022 and have a major impact on the electric power grid and energy markets in Texas. The Commission continues to move rapidly as it implements the 2021 post-Uri legislative mandates, and we expect it to continue changing regulations affecting a wide swath of the market and the ERCOT system to bolster reliability.  Everyone engaged in the ERCOT market should continue to pay close attention to these reforms.  Husch Blackwell is following these key matters at the Commission and represents or advises clients on many of them. We are happy to answer any questions related to any item outlined below.  

The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released its most recent proposal for controlling greenhouse gas emissions produced by the oil and gas industry earlier this month. The supplemental proposal builds upon the comments received by EPA in response to its proposed emission-control rules issued under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”) on November 15, 2021. In particular, the supplemental proposal revises and expands the stringent emissions control program introduced one year ago for new and existing sources. The supplemental proposal, however, raises questions regarding the implementation of existing greenhouse gas reporting and fee requirements under the Inflation Reduction Act (“IRA”). 

Regulated energy sector entities routinely submit confidential and proprietary business information to Texas state agencies, including the Railroad Commission (Texas’s incongruously named oil and gas regulator), the General Land Office, the Public Utility Commission, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas  (“ERCOT”), often assuming it is “for regulators’ eyes only.” But Texas agencies have limited power to prevent the disclosure of information sought pursuant to the Public Information Act (“PIA”).

On November 3, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued three notices (“November 3 Notices”) requesting public input on the climate and clean energy incentives contained in the Inflation Reduction Act (“IRA”). The November 3 Notices request comments by December 2, 2022, on the amendments, extensions, and enhancements of the IRA’s energy tax benefits. The November 3 Notices follow an initial set of six notices that were issued by the IRS on October 5, 2022 to seek public input on other aspects of the energy tax incentives contained in the IRA.

In 2020, New Mexico voters approved a Constitutional Amendment changing the PRC from five elected commissioners to three appointed commissioners. Historically, PRC commissioners were elected to serve four-year staggered terms; however, beginning January 1, 2023, PRC commissioners will be appointed to serve staggered six-year terms.

On September 22, 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $6-7 billion Funding Opportunity to begin the development of a nationwide program for the planning, construction, and operation of commercial-scale Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs, known colloquially as “H2Hubs.” H2Hubs are defined as “a network of clean hydrogen producers, potential clean hydrogen consumers, and connective infrastructure located in close proximity.” The DOE’s effort results from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) passed in 2021. The BIL appropriates $8 billion over a five-year period (2022-2026) and amends the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to establish a program to develop four to ten regional H2Hubs.

In order to keep pace with the federal government’s ambitious goal of permitting the production of at least twenty-five (25) gigawatts of renewable energy through projects placed on public land by 2025, the Department of the Interior (the “DOI”) recently announced several policy changes to ensure developing renewable projects on public land is attractive and affordable for third-party developers and investors.

Companies with ESG policies – including financing parties investing in renewable energy projects – should assess the impact of Texas Senate Bill 19 on their government contracting opportunities, and should expect and prepare for heightened state regulation of corporate firearm policies in the future.

Effective September 1, 2021, Texas Senate Bill 19 prohibits government entities from contracting with companies that have policies that restrict business with the firearms industry. The bill specifically targets banks and other financial institutions that have at least ten employees and are seeking government contracts of at least $100,000. Under the bill, such institutions are required to provide written verification that they do not have practices, policies, guidance, or directives that “discriminate” against a firearm entity or firearm trade association.