Calif. Order Shows Power Act's Enviro Liability Shield At Work

By Frederick Eames (October 13, 2020, 3:32 PM EDT) -- On Sept. 6, Bruce Walker, the U.S. assistant secretary of energy for electricity, issued an order under Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act, declaring an emergency shortage of electric generation. The order directed that if the California Independent System Operator, or CAISO, determined that the electrical output of certain gas-fired generators in the state was necessary to meet demand, the CAISO could require their operation, even if the operation caused a conflict with air quality limitations.

Circumstances behind the order clearly show companies drawing upon the liability protection Congress added to Section 202(c) in 2015, the so-called Olson language — named...

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