Oil Spills

News & Analysis as of

Court Has Inherent Authority to Supervise CSSP, Including Sanctioning Attorneys for Ethical Violations and Misconduct

On June 2, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit addressed another matter of alleged attorney misconduct in a Deepwater Horizon claims case and the District Court’s authority to impose sanctions for...more

In Massachusetts, Oil Exemption Is Not Like CERLA Petroleum Exclusion

On June 6, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts released an opinion of considerable importance to petroleum retailers in Massachusetts. In Peterborough Oil Company, LLC v. Department of Environmental Protection, the...more

When Is Gasoline Not Oil (At Least In Massachusetts)? When It’s Leaded, Of Course.

Unlike CERCLA, the Massachusetts Superfund law, Chapter 21E, does include oil within its ambit. However, oil is not treated exactly the same as hazardous materials. One difference is that, in 2007, MassDEP revised the...more

California Environmental Law & Policy Update - May 2016 #4

Environmental and Policy Focus - Proceeds from cap-and-trade auction fall far short of targets - Los Angeles Times - May 25 - The latest auction in California’s cap-and-trade market for greenhouse gases fell...more

New Judge, Same Result – $81 Million CWA Civil Penalty Appealed

U.S. District Court Judge Dee Drell (Western District, LA) recently denied a motion to alter or amend the Court’s judgment against CITGO Petroleum Corp.– allowing an $81 million judgment against the oil company to...more

California Environmental Law & Policy Update - May 2016 #3

Environmental and Policy Focus - In sharp reversal, California suspends mandatory water restrictions - New York Times - May 18 - The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) on Wednesday suspended its...more

California Environmental Law & Policy Update - April 2016 #2

Environmental and Policy Focus - Federal and state officials sign Klamath River dam removal deal - San Jose Mercury News - Apr 7 - The governors of California and Oregon and several other state, federal, power,...more

Energy Sector Alert Series: Hot Topics in California

Important energy issues continue to arise at the intersection of law and policy in California. Here are eight hot topics that require the attention of entities with interests in California's energy sector....more

Off the Tracks: Quantifying Potential Monetary Exposure From Crude-by-Rail Incidents

This article is the second in a three-part series that began with “Off the Tracks: A Data-Driven Analysis of Crude-by-Rail Liability Factors, Exposure, and Potential Solutions,” which was published on December 19, 2015....more

Critical Habitat for Right Whales Expanded

Action Item: The National Marine Fisheries Services (“NMFS”) promulgated a final rule identifying critical habitats for the endangered Northern Atlantic Right Whale. Stakeholders involved in spill response, ocean and offshore...more

Court in BP Oil Spill Litigation Denies Standing for Special Purpose Entities Created Solely for Litigation

A January 4, 2016 opinion in the Southern District of Texas by Judge Keith Ellison (“Op.”) in the In re: BP p.l.c. Securities Litigation, MDL No. 4:10-md-2185, has taken up the issue of whether plaintiffs can properly assign...more

Courts Must Determine The Economic Benefit Of Noncompliance In Assessing CWA Penalties

It is well-known that the “economic benefit of noncompliance” is one of the factors to be evaluated in setting penalties under the Clean Water Act. Thus, it is not surprising that, after an oil spill at Citgo’s facility in...more

T&H Case Study: Creating a Timeline of Fossil Fuel Disasters in America

As mentioned in a previous case study, much of the work we do in support of environmental law and toxic tort cases involves compiling comprehensive site histories. We work with our clients to come up with cost-efficient...more

D.C. Circuit Holds that Coast Guard May Impose Nonfinancial Conditions Before Allowing Ships Accused of Violating MARPOL to Leave...

On December 15, 2015, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that the U.S. Coast Guard could impose nonfinancial conditions, in addition to a bond, before permitting ships under suspicion of a MARPOL...more

Off the Tracks: A Data-Driven Analysis of Crude-by-Rail Liability Factors, Exposure, and Potential Solutions

Crude oil prices are now approaching what pundits believe is likely to be the bottom phase in the current market cycle. Due to the price downturn, the arbitrage window that drives a substantial portion of crude-by-rail...more

Fifth Circuit Clarifies Claim Presentment Requirements under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990

The 1989 grounding of the EXXON VALDEZ spurred Congress to enact the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) to remedy what it believed to be a patch-work compensation scheme where liability and damages were subject to federal...more

U.S. Coast Guard Issues Final Rule Raising OPA 90 Liability Limits

Action Item: The U.S. Coast Guard published a Final Rule increasing limits of liability for vessels, deepwater ports, and onshore facilities under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (“OPA 90”). The raise in liability limits also...more

In Deepwater Horizon Insurance Coverage Dispute, Fifth Circuit Affirms Favorable Ruling For Policyholders And Certifies Unfair...

In the latest development in the insurance coverage litigation arising out of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed a $50 million finding of coverage, holding that only the...more

Pipeline Proposal Would Expand Reporting and Testing, Cost $22.4M Annually

This year has been marked by a series of high-profile pipeline incidents in Montana, West Virginia and California, among others. In response to these incidents, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration...more

BP has settled its Clean Water Act penalty claims, but important questions remain to be decided

The United States and BP lodged their proposed settlement of the remaining claims by the US in connection with the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill with the US District Court today. Comments to the Justice Department are...more

DEC Explains New Enforcement Initiative to the New York Oil and Gas Industry

On September 30, 2015, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held a public information session regarding DEC enforcement of regulations relating to Petroleum Bulk Storage (PBS), petroleum spills...more

Falling Oil Prices Are Not the Only Deterrent to Investment in Mexico's Oil Fields

On July 15, Mexico auctioned 14 shallow-water exploration blocks. The auction marked the first time in nearly eight decades that private and foreign investors could directly participate in Mexico's exploration and production...more

Michigan Court Finds Expert Testimony Not Necessary to Show Link Between Chemical Exposure and Injury

Issuing an opinion that could lower the bar for proving toxic tort causation, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that direct expert testimony may not be necessary to prove causation in a toxic tort case and that a plaintiff...more

California Environmental Law & Policy Update - July 2015 #3

Environmental and Policy Focus - Water rights ruling a setback for California drought regulators: Sacramento Bee - Jul 10: In a significant ruling that could hinder California's ability to order water cutbacks, a judge...more

BP Reaches Agreement with Gulf States to Pay Historic $18.5 Billion Settlement over Deepwater Horizon

On July 2, 2015, BP reached an agreement in principle with five Gulf States to settle claims against the company arising from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. This marks the largest environmental settlement in...more

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