Energy & Utilities Constitutional Law

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Supreme Court Update: Harris V. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (14-232), Franchise Tax Board Of California V. Hyatt)...

With roughly two months left in the term, the Supremes have kicked opinion production into high gear, issuing five decisions this past week. While many of us at Update were doing the Batdance, and pondering what it looks like...more

Court of Appeal Turns a Careful Eye Toward Challenges to California’s Cap-and-Trade Auction System

A California Court of Appeal signaled it is moving closer to making what could be a far-reaching decision in the consolidated cases of California Chamber of Commerce v. California Air Resources Board (Case No. C075930) and...more

Supreme Court Rejects Maryland Power Plant Subsidies, But Signals Permissible Ways for States to Incentivize New Plants

In recent years, Maryland attempted to subsidize new power plants by guaranteeing prices for generating capacity at wholesale auctions administered by PJM Interconnection L.L.C. (PJM). Tuesday, the Supreme Court unanimously...more

The Supreme Court - April 2016 #3

The Supreme Court of the United States issued decisions in two cases on April 19, 2016: Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing, LLC, No. 14-614: Congress, though the Federal Power Act (“FPA”), 16 U.S.C. §791a et seq., vested...more

State AGs Announce Climate Change Investigations - ExxonMobil Challenges Subpoena on Constitutional Grounds

Several state attorneys general (“state AGs”) have recently announced investigations into energy companies’ securities disclosures about the risks climate change poses to their businesses. In November 2015, Peabody Energy...more

A Substantive Due Process Right to Climate Change Regulation? What’s a Lonely Apostle of Judicial Restraint To Do?

Late last week, Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin concluded that the most recent public trust case, which seeks an injunction requiring the United States to take actions to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations to 350 parts per...more

Gas Company May Challenge Local Ordinance Prohibiting Deposit of Flowback Water into Underground Injection Wells

A Federal Magistrate Judge in Pennsylvania has ruled that an oil and gas exploration company may challenge a township ordinance that makes it unlawful to deposit flowback water into underground injection wells within the...more

SC Public Policy Update - March 2016 #3

What's New - SENATE - The Senate spent the week on the floor working on a compromise to S .997, a bill by Senator Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) that would track refugees that are located in South Carolina. Senators...more

State Well Permit Prevails Over Local Zoning – Again

The state laws of Louisiana regulating oil and gas exploration and production will trump local regulations. See St. Tammany Parish Government v. State of Louisiana, Office of Conservation. (Forgive us for that word that...more

Federal Court Refuses To Reinstate Lesser Prairie Chicken Listing: What Now, And What’s Next?

Last fall a federal court in the Western District of Texas upheld a challenge to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (Service) decision to list the lesser prairie chicken (LEPC) as a threatened species under the federal...more

To “SIB” or Not to “SIB” – That Is the Question on How to Timely Fund Necessary Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Improvements

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Survey showed that $271 billion is needed for the Nation’s Wastewater Infrastructure, including for investor-owned utilities regulated by state public utility commissions....more

MoFo New York Tax Insights - Volume 7, Issue 3, March 2016

TRIAL COURT HOLDS THAT FEES RELATED TO THE NEW YORK HIGHWAY USE TAX ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL - In a class action lawsuit, an Albany County trial court held that flat highway use registration and decal fees charged to heavy...more

Newhall Case Applies Proposition 26 to Wholesale Water Rates

Newhall County Water District v. Castaic Lake Water Agency (2016) 243 Cal.App.4th 1430 (“Newhall”) - Case Disposition - Plaintiff Newhall County Water District (“Newhall”), a retail water purveyor, challenged a...more

Blog: Deadline For Filing Cert Petition Extended Again In Conflict Minerals Case

The Chief Justice has granted another extension of time for the SEC to file a petition for cert in Natl Assoc. of Manufacturers v. SEC, the conflict minerals case. The SEC now has until April 7, 2016 to file its...more

Federal Court Strikes Town Ordinance Requiring Warning Labels

In a case that may have implications for chemical warning laws, a federal court in New York found a town’s efforts to require warning labels on pesticide-treated utility poles compelled non-commercial speech and infringed on...more

Renewable Energy Case Law Update

This case law update describes a selection of renewable energy cases from 2015. It is not intended to address all renewable energy cases over the previous year, but rather, highlight a few that are more likely to be of...more

MPSC Approved Wolverine Pipe Line Project in Wayne and Washtenaw Counties

Wolverine Pipe Line Company received the administrative approval that is a prerequisite to it acquiring necessary property rights and constructing its project. On June 17, 2015, Wolverine Pipe Line Company filed anApplication...more

Supreme Court Update: Montgomery V. Louisiana (14-280), Federal Energy Regulatory Commission V. Electric Power Supply Association...

The decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana (14-280) was a biggie, and not just because it retroactively applied the Court's 2012 holding that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juvenile offenders violate the Eighth...more

2016 Washington Preview

Having completed the first session of the 114th Congress, many in Washington are quickly turning toward the 2016 elections. In the coming year, the headlines will undoubtedly be dominated by electioneering but, after a...more

FTA and FHWA Buy America Updates

Public agencies are routinely facing Buy America requirements in their infrastructure projects. Some of the most difficult situations involve how to satisfy Buy America obligations with public utility relocations. The rules...more

Are Groundwater Pumping Fees or Charges Subject to Proposition 218? California Supreme Court to Resolve Conflicting Precedent

In 2015 California’s Sixth and Second District Courts of Appeal issued conflicting opinions regarding whether groundwater extraction fees or charges are subject to Article 13D of the California Constitution (Proposition 218)....more

Possible Chicanery by DTE On Milford Bypass Loop Pipeline?

Has DTE withheld distribution of complete easements, including the exhibit containing the legal description of the encumbered property, in an attempt to hide the true impacts of the easements from homeowners? Last night, I...more

UPDATE: Pa. Commonwealth Court Affirms Trial Court Decision Permitting Use of Eminent Domain by Pa. Gas Utility to Supply Private...

A three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, in a pair of memorandum opinions, recently affirmed a trial court decision authorizing a natural gas public utility to use its eminent domain power to condemn an...more

Blog: SEC Proposes New Resource Extraction Disclosure Rules — Will They Face Another Legal Challenge?

Last Thursday, the SEC voted (with Commissioner Piwowar in dissent) to propose rules, mandated by Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank, that would require disclosure on Form SD of certain payments made to the federal and foreign...more

Pennsylvania State Trial Court Dismisses Appeal Challenging Constitutionality of Local Ordinance Regulating Natural Gas Drilling

In Delaware Riverkeeper Network, et al. v. Middlesex Township Zoning Hearing Board, A.D. No. 15-10429 (Nov. 19, 2015), Butler County Judge S. Michael Yeager upheld a gas drilling ordinance that was challenged by residents and...more

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