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Our EmTech Law Blog provides timely legal and business information on issues impacting companies developing or investing in new technologies, new companies, and new ideas.

 

 

Emerging Tech Law Podcast Series: Cybersecurity in the Energy Industry

On this episode of the Emerging Tech Podcast Series, we talk to Justine Kasznica and Ashleigh Krick of Babst Calland’s Emerging Technologies Group about the latest cybersecurity threats centered on the energy industry.

Get more insights on the recent high-profile cyber-attacks, including Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods and the aftermath of those. This discussion will reference Congressional and TSA action on pipeline cybersecurity. We will also talk about what steps businesses can be taking to address cybersecurity.

To listen to this podcast, click here.

To request a copy of The 2021 Babst Calland Report, click here.

Tagged:  TSA, cyberattacks, cybersecurity, energy industry

NHTSA Opens Investigation into Tesla Crashes Involving Autopilot

On August 13, 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Office of Defect Investigations (ODI) opened a Preliminary Evaluation (PE21-020) into crashes with in-road or roadside first responders involving Tesla vehicles where Autopilot was confirmed to have been engaged during the approach to the crash.  NHTSA cites to 11 crashes involving emergency vehicles that involved 17 total injuries and 1 fatality.  The earliest cited crash is the January 22, 2018, crash in Culver City, California, where a Tesla Model S rear-ended a firetruck parked along a California freeway. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the crash found that the driver was overly reliant on Autopilot and that Autopilot allowed the driver to disengage from the driving task.

In the investigation report, ODI described Tesla’s Autopilot as an SAE Level 2 Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) system “in which the vehicle maintains its speed and lane centering when engaged within its Operational Design Domain (ODD).” Even with the ADAS active, ODI noted that the driver continues to hold primary responsibility for Object and Event Detection and Response (OEDR).  As such, ODI explained that the investigation will “assess the technologies and methods used to monitor, assist, and enforce the driver's engagement with the dynamic driving task during Autopilot operation.”  ODI will also evaluate Autopilot’s ODD and OEDR.

While the investigation focuses on a relatively narrow issue—the ability of Autopilot to identify and respond to parked emergency vehicles—it reinforces the Agency’s interest in crashes involving SAE Level 2 ADAS systems that are being deployed on public roads.  Particularly, the Agency’s interest in how vehicle manufacturers are perhaps enforcing the driver’s engagement when these systems are activated.  This investigation follows NHTSA’s recent Order requiring crash reporting for ADAS-equipped vehicles.

Tagged:  Advanced Driver Assistance System, NHTSA, autopilot, investigation

Emerging Tech Law Podcast: Investment Trends in Energy

In this episode of the Emerging Tech Podcast Series, Justine Kasznica and Ashleigh Krick of Babst Calland’s Emerging Technologies Group talk to Jonathan Kersting of the Pittsburgh Technology Council about the latest investment trend in energy as reported from the 2021 Babst Calland Energy Report.

They discuss how public government funding is driving investment in emerging energy technologies like energy storage and hydrogen. They will also detail how VC and private equity investments are at a record high and what’s driving the growth.

Listen to the podcast here.

Tagged:  Natural gas, Oil and gas, Technology, hydrogen, investments, private equity, venture capital

Alert: Biden Administration Sets Target of 50% EV Sales Share by 2030 and Announces New Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Regulations

On August 5, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Strengthening American Leadership in Clean Cars and Trucks (Executive Order).  The White House signing event included American automakers Ford, GM, and Stellantis, as well as the United Auto Workers (UAW), demonstrating support for the president’s Build Back Better agenda and investment in U.S. leadership in electric vehicles and batteries, manufacturing, and jobs.  In conjunction with the signing of this Executive Order, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced coordinated notices of proposed rulemaking that are intended to roll back the previous administration’s emissions and fuel economy regulations.

Please read more about this reporting requirement in this Alert.

Tagged:  GHG emissions, Transportation, Trucks, USDOT, electric vehicles, engine emissions, fuel economy standards

Force majeure: Why these contract provisions are drawing new scrutiny

“With the pandemic, our clients suddenly cared a lot about whether their contracts included a force majeure provision, what it said, what it meant and how it could be interpreted,” says Attorney Kate Cooper, shareholder at Babst Calland. Kate Cooper spoke with Smart Business about force majeure provisions and how approaches to them are changing. Read more.

Tagged:  Contracts, Corporate Law, Emerging Technology, Transactions

Emerging Tech Law Podcast – Investment Trends in Energy

On this episode of the Pittsburgh Technology Council Emerging Tech Podcast Series, Babst Calland's Justine Kasznica and Ashleigh Krick, Esq. talk about the latest investment trend in energy as reported from the 2021 Babst Calland Energy Report. They discuss how public, government funding is driving investment in emerging energy technologies like energy storage and hydrogen. The will also detail how VC and private equity investments are at a record high and what's driving the growth. Listen to the podcast here.

Tagged:  Natural gas, Oil and gas, Technology, investments

The 2021 Babst Calland Report Highlights Legal and Regulatory Perspectives at a Transformational Time for the U.S. Energy Industry

A Recent Conversation with U.S. Senator Joe Manchin Featured in this Report

Babst Calland published its 11th annual energy industry report: The 2021 Babst Calland Report – Legal & Regulatory Perspectives for the U.S. Energy Industry. Each of our nation’s energy sectors is impacted by local, state and federal policies, many of which are addressed in this inclusive report on legal and regulatory developments for the energy industry in the United States.

For access to the full digital Report, click here.

The Babst Calland Report represents the timely collective perspectives of more than 45 energy attorneys on the current state of the U.S. natural gas and oil, coal, and renewable energy sectors. For the first time, this Report is presented as an easy-to-navigate digital site featuring 12 sections, addressing the following key topics:
  • Business Outlook for the U.S. Energy Industry
  • Climate Change Initiatives from the Biden Administration
  • Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Priorities
  • Environmental Law Developments
  • Environmental Justice Issues
  • Appalachian Basin Regional Developments
  • Coal Mining Regulatory Changes
  • Expansion of the U.S. Renewable Energy Market
  • Real Estate & Land Use Developments
  • Litigation Trends
  • Changes in Employment & Labor Law
  • Emerging Technologies Affecting the Energy Industry (click link to view this section)

Joseph K. Reinhart, shareholder and co-chair of Babst Calland’s Energy and Natural Resources Group, said, “The energy industry, once again, is at an inflection point and a moment of resiliency as it experiences a rebound in pricing and recovers from the impact of the global pandemic. Evidenced by the signing of several Executive Orders, President Biden has made climate change a focal point of U.S. energy policy. The full impact of the new administration’s “government-wide” approach to regulatory and social environmental policies will be unclear for months.

“This transformational time promises to bring significant changes for the U.S. energy industry. It is vital for any energy organization to consider the forewarnings, the risks, and the legal and regulatory implications to its business.”

Report Features Video Commentary from  U.S. Senator Joe Manchin This edition features commentary from Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, who spoke with Babst Calland energy clients at a special briefing on June 25, 2021. A link to the webinar recording is available in this Report.

Updates on key developments in energy and natural resources law beyond this Report are available directly by the attorneys who represent clients in a wide spectrum of industry sectors and legal practice areas.

Tagged:  Appalachian Basin, Gas drilling, Law, Marcellus Shale, Midstream, Natural gas, Ohio, Oil and gas, Pennsylvania, Regulatory, West Virginia

Guidance on steps to protect your business against cyberattacks

Recent high-profile cybersecurity breaches have highlighted how vulnerable even the largest businesses are to disruption. But even the smallest of businesses face risks, says Ashleigh Krick. “Organizations may think they are not at risk and do not have valuable information, but they should think again,” says Krick, an associate at Babst Calland. “It does not matter what information you have when a hacker just wants money. It’s not just about data; it’s also about shutting down your business to force you to pay a ransom.” Read more.

Tagged:  assessment, cyberattacks, cybersecurity, policies and procedures, practices, ransomware, response plan, threats, vulnerabilities

Protecting your innovations outside the United States

If you’re considering selling your innovative product or commercializing your novel processes in another country, protecting your innovations with a patent in that country may be key to your success. But trying to navigate the process alone can prove difficult.

“It’s surprising how complicated it can be, and there are a lot of places to get tripped up,” says Carl Ronald, shareholder at Babst Calland. “While you can try to do it on your own, hiring a patent attorney can make the process much smoother, ensuring you are including all relevant information and complying with all relevant deadlines to protect your invention in the most cost-effective way possible.”

Read more.

Tagged:  Innovation, Intellectual Property, Invention, Ownership, Patent Cooperation Treaty, Patents, USPTO

Has COVID-19 Escalated Disagreements Between Business Owners?

Business owners faced with extraordinary operational and financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may also be managing special demands and concerns posed by their owners. There is never a good time for an internal ownership squabble to bubble up to the surface, but owner conflicts or differences can be particularly troublesome when the business is already under duress.

Disruption Can Create Conflict

There is no question that the pandemic has impacted many businesses’ finances and strategy, as well as relationships between co-owners. The warning signs of an owner disagreement should never be ignored. If left unchecked, these misunderstandings can cause real damage to a company’s health and vitality including negative impacts on the bottom line, employee morale, and even relationships with creditors, customers and suppliers. A company can be particularly vulnerable at critical moments when its owners may already be dealing with the pandemic ramifications or other financial and operational challenges. Do not wait for the perfect time to deal with owner disagreements because that time will never come. The stability of a company’s day-to-day operations and future financial success are often dependent upon resolution of these multi-faceted disagreements between owners.

Read More.

Tagged:  COVID-19, Ownership