Energy & Utilities Constitutional Law

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The Unintended Effects of Protecting the Environment – How Banning Fracking Can Lead San Benito County To Bankruptcy

On November 4, 2014, San Benito County voters went to the poles to vote on Measure J, the measure designed to prohibit hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and related gas and oil extraction activities, as well as other...more

Ninth Circuit Rejects Use of Preemptive Litigation to Validate Federal Approvals

Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc., v. Center for Biological Diversity, (11/12/14, No. 13-35835) The Ninth Circuit has rejected a “novel litigation strategy” that Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc., employed in an effort to preempt a...more

Pa. Gas Utility May Use Eminent Domain to Supply Private Power Plant

A Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, judge recently authorized a natural gas public utility to use its eminent domain power in condemning easements for the construction and maintenance of a pipeline to supply gas to a private...more

The Ninth Circuit Provides Clarity on ERA Whistleblower Protections.

On November 7, 2014, the Ninth Circuit issued its ruling in Tamosaitis v. URS Inc. and provided clarity on three key aspects of the whistleblower protections afforded under the Energy Reorganization Act (ERA), 42 U.S.C. 5801...more

Illinois Supreme Court Debates Scope of Whistleblower Statute

During the September term, the Illinois Supreme Court debated an important question about the scope of the state Whistleblower Act: does a plaintiff state a claim under the statute by alleging that the defendant falsified...more

Denton Becomes First Texas City to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing

On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 59 percent of voters elected to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing (“fracing”) in the city of Denton, which sits on top of the hydrocarbon-rich Barnett Shale. Although the ban does not...more

Court of Appeal Finds: Environmental and Natural Resources Existing Flood Danger Was Not An Impact Of Proposed Dam Upgrade...

In Paulek v. California Dept. of Water Resources (2014) (October 31, 2014, E060038) __ Cal.App.4th __, the Court of Appeal upheld the final environmental impact report (“EIR”) prepared by the California Department of Water...more

Ninth Circuit Rebuffs Shell’s Declaratory Judgment Act Suit

The Ninth Circuit recently rejected “a novel litigation strategy” under the Declaratory Judgment Act (DJA). Shell Gulf of Mex. v. Ctr. for Biological Div., 13-35835 (9th Cir. Nov. 12, 2014) (Slip Op.). According to the Ninth...more

Railroad Commission Chairwoman: “It’s My Job to Give Permits, Not Denton’s”

At a November 6 event, Texas Railroad Commission Chairwoman Christi Craddick unequivocally stated that the Commission would continue to issue drilling permits to operators in Denton, despite the November 4 vote making it the...more

California Low Carbon Fuel Standard Overhaul Continues

I. LCFS Readoption - The California Air Resources Board (“ARB”) is on the cusp of readopting the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (“LCFS”) regulation to remedy legal defects in the initial adoption process found by the...more

City of Fort Collins, Colorado, Appeals Ruling Striking Down Fracking Bans

The week of September 22, the Fort Collins, Colorado, City Council voted to appeal a decision rendered last month that struck down the city’s fracking ban. In that August 2014 decision, a Larimer County District Court...more

Ballard Spahr Lawyers Turn Back Robinson Township Challenge to Waste-to-Energy Facility

Although some have suggested that Robinson Township, et al. v. Commonwealth, a 2013 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that struck down key provisions of a state law regulating the oil and gas industry, could impair...more

Texas Supreme Court Argument Preview (10/14)

No. 13-0199, Steadfast Financial LLC v. Bradshaw - This is an oil & gas royalty dispute in which a non-participating royalty owner sued the owner of the executive right for failure to obtain a higher royalty interest in a new...more

First District Holds CEQA’s Application To Public Agency’s Approval of Railroad Operations Is Preempted By Federal Law Despite...

The North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA), a public agency established by state law, contracted with Northwestern Pacific Railroad Company (NWPRC) to allow NWPRC to conduct freight services on tracks controlled by NCRA....more

District of Arizona Rethinks NEPA’s Zone of Interests in Light of Recent Supreme Court Opinion on “Prudential” Standing

On September 30, 2014, the United States District Court for the District of Arizona (Campbell, D.J.) issued an order in Yount v. Salazar, Nos. 11-8171 et al., 2014 WL 4904423 (D. Ariz. Sept. 30, 2014). As part of this order,...more

The Atmosphere Is a Public Trust. So What?

The last frontier of citizen climate litigation has been state-based litigation alleging that states have a public trust obligation to mitigate climate change. As I have previously noted, I’m skeptical that these cases are...more

Ninth Circuit Upholds TERO Requirements in Indian Country Mineral Leasing

Conducting commercial operations on tribal lands can pose significant challenges for non-Indian companies. Demonstrating sensitivity to the cultural nuances of Native American society and navigating the complex web of federal...more

Easements Made Easier: Building Pipelines with the Power of Eminent Domain Under the Natural Gas Act

Any person or entity seeking to construct a natural gas pipeline and successful in obtaining a certificate of convenience and necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may exercise the power of eminent domain to...more

Supreme Court Roundup: Recent Environmental Law Rulings and Pending Cases

Scaling back considerably from the October 2012 Term, the United States Supreme Court issued only a few rulings affecting environmental law during the October 2013 Term. With significant pronouncements regarding EPA’s Clean...more

Texas Railroad Commission Proposes New Rules Related to Pipeline Eminent Domain Claims

The November 2011 issue of the Energy Newsletter addressed the case of Texas Rice Land Partners, Ltd. v. Denbury Green Pipeline-Texas, LLC, in an article titled Texas Supreme Court Ruling May Slow the Installation of Certain...more

Stormwater Management Services That Provide a Water Supply Source May Be Funded With Water Service

New Legislation Defines Water for Purposes of Proposition 218 to Include Water from Any Source - Bill 2403 amends the definition of “water” contained in the Proposition 218 Omnibus Implementation Act to “include...more

Keystone XL Pipeline Faced Scrutiny in Nebraska Supreme Court September 5, 2014 Hearing

The Keystone XL pipeline project faced a major hurdle in the Nebraska Supreme Court last Friday, as federal approval of the pipeline may be influenced by the court’s decision regarding the constitutionality of the process by...more

Mexico’s Energy Reform Provides Significant Opportunities in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production

Mexico’s new energy legislation, which went into effect on August 12, 2014, will completely restructure the Mexican energy sector, including both hydrocarbons and electricity. This legislation opens up oil and gas exploration...more

The Shale Play Today - August 2014

In This Issue: - A Look Ahead - What's Next for 2014: With 125 days left in 2014, we find ourselves looking at What's Next for the oil & gas industry in the Marcellus and Utica Shale Plays. It has been an...more

Texas Supreme Court to Hear Defamation Case Involving Fracking Claims

On August 21, 2014, the Texas Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments in an ongoing dispute between a homeowner and Texas-based oil driller Range Resources Corp. The case is not a typical homeowner vs. oil driller...more

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