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In December 2014, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced a moratorium on the exploration and production of natural gas in New York State using hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” The decision was said to be based on a study by the New York Department of Health (DOH), but it was generally acknowledged that the decision and its timing were driven by political considerations. The decision to ban hydraulic fracturing is questionable for three reasons: the DOH study does not identify any actual harm; the decision elevates local concerns above national policy concerns and creates a “free rider” syndrome; and the decision underscores the difficulty of developing important national resources in a mixed federal/state/local regulatory regime.
Recent headlines were awash with stories of US corporations utilizing “inversion” transactions in which a US corporation’s parent company becomes a non-US corporation, resulting in a substantial reduction in the company’s US tax cost. Outraged politicians referred to such corporations as traitors and insisted they pay their fair share of tax. Rarely discussed is the expanding scope of real estate investment trusts (REITs) and publicly traded master limited partnerships (MLPs) that allow increasingly broad segments of the US economy to operate in an environment that incurs zero corporate income tax. In the wake of the midterm elections that shifted control of Congress to more business-friendly legislators, many pundits now suggest that corporate tax reform will be a significant area of potential agreement between the administration and Congress. In that context, it will be useful to consider the variety of impacts of corporate income tax on different US industrial segments.
A coordinated sniper attack in 2013 on Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Metcalf substation shut down electric power to much of Silicon Valley. After the attack, the electric industry and regulators, particularly representatives of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), engaged in extensive discussions regarding how to address the risk to the physical security of the grid. This article describes the regulatory background for reliability standards; the standards development process; the distinct roles of NERC as the industry self-regulatory organization and FERC as the oversight regulatory authority; the political and regulatory impact of the Metcalf substation attack; and the resulting NERC proposed Physical Security Reliability Standard.
Summary of the three articles that appear in the quarterly’s Winter 2015 issue: Fracking Moratorium in New York State; corporate fair share taxes; security of the energy grid following a sniper attack in 2013.
Remarks on breadth and relevance of the Section to the critical national infrastructure industries its members represent. Recognizes law student Alexander Hurst as winner of the 2014 K. William Kolbe student writing competition.