Academic journal article Energy Law Journal

In Memoriam: Robert Nordhaus

Academic journal article Energy Law Journal

In Memoriam: Robert Nordhaus

Article excerpt

Robert R. (Bob) Nordhaus, the first General Counsel of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and a leader in U.S. energy and environmental law and policy for four decades, died on December 24, 2016 at his residence on Capitol Hill in Washington, D. C. He was seventy-nine.

A Stanford undergraduate and 1963 Yale law school graduate, Bob began his Washington career in the U.S. House of Representatives Office of Legislative Counsel. In that position, and then as Counsel to the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, he crafted many of the laws that constitute the framework of modern energy and environmental law, including the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the Clean Air Act of 1970, the legislative response to the OPEC Oil Embargo, and energy and fuel efficiency standards. Recognized by leaders in both parties as a master legislative draftsman, he also penned groundbreaking legislation in other public policy fields, such as the Consumer Product Safety Act and ERISA.

Bob joined the Carter Administration as Assistant Administrator at the Federal Energy Administration before he became General Counsel of FÉRC in 1977. He joined forces with Charles B. Curtis, then FÉRC Chairman, to modernize the agency and lead the implementation of the major Carter era energy legislation- the Natural Gas Policy Act and The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act-setting in motion a regulatory evolution that has fostered growth in natural gas markets and infrastructure, and the development of competitive electricity markets. Ferociously analytical and characteristically impatient, Bob came to FÉRC eager to transform a legal practice before the newly minted agency that was burdened by the notorious administrative inefficiency of its predecessor, the FPC. Learning that the FPC bar's arcane practice was based on private collections of Commission precedent unavailable to the public, Bob contracted with Commerce Clearing House to produce a well-indexed and current set of FÉRC legal resources, providing access and discipline to the body of law governing the agency's work. He also set in motion rule changes, including settlement procedures, blanket certificates, and administrative delegations, that are the procedural workhorses of today's FÉRC practice. Bob approached the job as a regulator with the highest standard of legal professionalism. Believing that energy policy should be based on sound and clearly articulated economic and policy goals, he recruited and trained a group of lawyers to modernize FÉRC lawmaking through the extensive use of evidencebased rulemaking. …

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