Energy Regulatory Compliance

Companies in the energy industry must comply with extensive federal and state rules and regulations if you or your company is producing, transporting, or using energy resources. Adding to this complex interplay are private and public interests. An error, oversight, or misstep can lead to legal action and irreparable harm to a company's reputation. 

The Dohrwardt Law Firm advises and represents clients regulated by these laws. Contact the Dohrwardt Law Firm to discuss your business needs and learn more about the firm's energy regulatory legal services.

Energy Compliance Laws regulating the energy industry are multi-layered and complex. Compliance regulations exist at both the federal and state level. 

At the Federal level, the energy industry is regulated by several agencies, like the:

At the State level, State public utility commissions regulate electricity and natural gas services to end-users. State regulators also often review the siting of significant power plants and transmission lines.

The Dohrwardt Law Firm provides many services, like:

  • Counseling clients regarding administrative proceedings before Federal and State regulatory agencies
  • Counseling clients on the application of energy regulatory law to their businesses and projects
  • Assisting clients with related compliance, audit, and enforcement matters.

Large companies are not the only businesses affected by energy regulations and enforcement, as are mid to small-sized companies. To maintain and remain in compliance, comprehensive legal counsel is necessary. 

Companies Regulated by Federal and State Energy Laws

All companies that handle energy in any capacity and for any purpose must comply with local, state, and federal environmental laws and energy regulations. These companies include but are not limited to the following:

  • Transmission infrastructure
  • Solar power
  • Wind power
  • Climate change
  • Electric storage
  • Electric vehicles
  • Hydrogen and renewable fuels
  • Natural gas, LNG, and petroleum products
  • Energy efficiency and demand response
  • Conventional fossil fuel generation

Regulated entities can invest, manufacture, develop, produce, or otherwise operate energy-related products or services.

Key Provisions of U.S. Energy Law

Energy laws and regulations are extensive and interrelated. Here is a summary of some critical provisions the Dohrwardt Law Firm addresses when representing and counseling energy clients.

Federal Regulation of Energy Resources

Federal energy law is primarily governed by the Department of Energy Organization Act (42 U.S.C. § 7101 et seq.) and the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. § 791a et seq.). The Department of Energy Organization Act establishes the Department of Energy (DOE) and sets forth its mission to promote the efficient use of energy and enhance national security. The Federal Power Act regulates the sale of electricity in interstate commerce. It grants the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the authority to regulate the transmission and sale of electric energy in interstate commerce.

State Regulation of Energy Resources

While federal law provides a comprehensive framework for regulating energy resources, states also play a crucial role in energy law. State energy laws can govern the regulation of in-state energy production and the permitting and construction of energy facilities. Additionally, state public utility commissions can regulate the retail sale of energy within their jurisdiction.

Environmental Regulations

Energy production and use can have significant environmental impacts. To mitigate these impacts, energy law includes various environmental regulations to protect the environment and public health. Some of the key environmental regulations in energy law include the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. § 7401 et seq.), the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq.), and the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq.).

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

In recent years, a growing focus has been on promoting energy efficiency and using renewable energy sources. This area's Critical energy law provisions include the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Pub. L. No. 109-58, 119 Stat. 594) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115). These laws provide incentives and support for developing and deploying renewable energy technologies and improving energy efficiency in homes, buildings, and transportation.

Critical Cases in U.S. Energy Law

Energy law in the United States is a complex and ever-evolving field that encompasses a range of legal issues related to the production, transportation, and use of energy resources. Federal and state regulations and private and public interests shape this area of law. It has been shaped by several landmark cases that have helped to define the boundaries of energy law and the role of the courts in this area. 

  • United States v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U.S. 144 (1938). One of the earliest and most important cases in U.S. energy law is United States v. Carolene Products Co. This landmark case established the "footnote four" doctrine, which established the principle that courts should give greater scrutiny to regulations that implicate constitutional rights, such as the right to property. This principle has been applied in many energy law cases, including challenges to government regulations related to the exploration and development of energy resources.
  • Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon, 260 U.S. 393 (1922). This case addressed the issue of the "taking" of private property for public use. In this case, the Supreme Court held that the government's regulation of the use of personal property for the public good must be reasonable and not result in the taking of the property without just compensation. This principle has been applied in many energy law cases, including challenges to government regulations related to the construction of pipelines and other energy infrastructure.
  • Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984). This case addressed the issue of agency deference or the extent to which courts should defer to an agency's interpretation of its regulations. The Supreme Court held that courts should give considerable deference to an agency's interpretation of its regulations unless the regulation is ambiguous or the agency's interpretation is contrary to the regulation's plain language. This principle has been applied in many energy law cases, including challenges to interpreting and applying regulations related to the exploration and development of energy resources.
  • American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut, 564 U.S. 410 (2011). This case addressed the issue of the power of states to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, which have been linked to climate change. The Supreme Court held that states cannot regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act but that the federal government has that power. This case helped clarify the boundaries between federal and state authorities in regulating energy resources.

These are just a few critical cases in U.S. energy law that have shaped this field and the legal landscape for energy production, transportation, and use. These cases highlight the complex interplay between federal and state regulations private and public interests.

Failure to Comply with Energy Laws and Regulations

Failure to comply with energy laws can lead to criminal and civil action. A conviction can lead to incarceration, restitution, and fines if criminal action is taken. If civil action is taken, a loss can lead to steep fines and injunctive relief. The extent of any penalty depends on the situation.

It is always best to comply with the law and remain proactive about compliance. The Dohrwardt Law Firm recognizes that energy laws and regulations change as often as many technologies upon which this industry depends change. The Dohrwardt Law Firm can help you comply with the law through a multi-layered approach.

Contact the Dohrwardt Law Firm Today 

The Dohrwardt Law Firm advises clients in many facets of the energy sector. Contact the Dohrwardt Law Firm to discuss how the firm can help you.

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Bray Dohrwardt is licensed to practice law in Minnesota and Texas. Please contact the Dohrwardt Law Firm to discuss how the firm can help you get business done.