Court approves Blackjewel's plan to transfer eastern permits for western sale
A federal court approved Blackjewel LLC's plan to transfer the permits and reclamation obligations related to its remaining eastern assets to an affiliate of FM Coal LLC, freeing the debtor to sell its Powder River Basin mines. Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy protection in July and has since tried to sell most of its assets.
Court shields coal lessees from Obama-era valuation rule as litigation proceeds
As a case works to determine whether an Obama-era fossil fuel valuation rule on federal lands will be cast aside, a federal court shielded coal producers from those valuations on coal mined from federal and Native American lands but left them in place for oil and gas producers. Several petitioners from the industry found the valuation rule "problematic and burdensome" and claimed that it exceeds the authority of the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, according to an Oct. 8 filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming. They want the rule to be set aside under the Administrative Procedure Act.
US government investigates Blackjewel for potential False Claims Act violations
The federal government was investigating Blackjewel for potential violations of the False Claims Act and had issued a subpoena to the company, according to court documents. The act holds people and entities liable when they knowingly submit false claims to the government. The U.S. government was investigating the coal producer prior to its bankruptcy proceeding, according to an Oct. 5 filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.
House Democrats subpoena DOE secretary in Trump impeachment inquiry
Democrats in the House of Representatives subpoenaed U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry as part of a congressional impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. In an Oct. 10 letter, Committee on Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.; Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; and Committee on Oversight and Reform Chair Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ordered Perry to produce a variety of Ukraine-related documents by Oct. 18, citing public reports that he participated in White House efforts to pressure Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 U.S. presidential election by denying military aid.
Impeachment inquiry may make 116th Congress least productive in history
From a trade agreement at the heart of President Donald Trump's legislative agenda to more incremental pieces of legislation, activity on Capitol Hill could grind to a halt because of the congressional impeachment inquiry opened into the president's conduct last month. That would ensure that an already historically unproductive Congress becomes the least effective in at least 46 years. More than three-quarters of the way through its first year, the 116th Congress has witnessed the passage of just 65 bills, compared with an average of 417 for each of the past 10 two-year Congresses. If the pace picks up and it reaches 200 bills, it would still be the smallest number passed since at least the 93rd Congress between 1973 and 1974, which passed 772 bills.
Trump signs executive orders targeting guidance documents from federal agencies
President Donald Trump signed two executive orders that seek to limit federal agencies' use of so-called guidance documents to interpret and implement regulations, a practice the White House said skirts public scrutiny. Agencies issue guidance documents to explain new regulations and clarify existing policies and legal information, with the aim of assisting the public in their compliance. These include memos, circulars, bulletins, advisories and blog posts.
Trump order could give agencies 'one-time chance' to nix previous guidance
President Donald Trump's executive orders aimed at reining in the use of guidance by federal agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could slow the gears of the federal bureaucracy. That could also make it harder for executive branch agencies to issue new guidance that advances the White House's deregulatory agenda, according to one industry expert. At the same time, however, one of the orders could give agencies a one-time opportunity to ditch previous guidance that does not conform with the Trump administration's regulatory approach, according to a regulatory policy advocate.