On June 29, 2021, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, held that a natural gas company’s right to condemn property for a pipeline under the Natural Gas Act includes the right to condemn state-owned property. In PennEast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey,[1] the divided Court held that a certificate from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) entitled PennEast Pipeline Company (PennEast) to use the federal government’s power of eminent domain to seize property owned by the State of New Jersey.
Continue Reading United States Supreme Court Blocks New Jersey’s Sovereign Immunity Challenge to FERC Certificate Holder’s Condemnation of State-Owned Land

Perhaps the most important right granted in a solar development agreement is the right of the solar developer to use the surface of the property to evaluate, construct, and operate the solar farm.  But how can the solar developer ensure that its right to use the surface of the property is not encumbered by or inferior to the rights of others?  Or, more specifically, how can the solar developer ensure that a mineral estate owner will not be able to locate a well in the middle of its solar farm?  This issue is at the forefront of the minds of the renewables industry and was the subject of a recent Texas Court of Appeals decision.  As renewable energy projects continue to multiply, clashes between solar developers and mineral interest owners will increase as well.
Continue Reading Solar Leasing in Louisiana: The Accommodation Doctrine

Bringing to mind the infamous Hatfield-McCoy family feud, Concho Resources, Inc. v. Ellison is a classic boundary dispute between a leasehold owner and neighboring lessees with allegations of fraud and more than $1 million at stake.  See 2021 WL 1432222 (Tex. Apr. 16, 2021).  The plaintiff, Martha Ellison d/b/a Ellison Lease Operating, alleged that the defendant lessees, Samson Resources Company (“Samson”), COG Operating LLC (“Concho”), drilled and operated a well on her leasehold.  The defendants—relying on a boundary stipulation and a written acceptance of such stipulation signed by Jamie Ellison, Mrs. Ellison’s deceased husband—claimed that Mr. Ellison ratified the agreed boundary line before his passing, foreclosing any claims of trespass.  What ensued was a long legal battle with an ironic outcome.  The defendants won in the trial court; the court of appeals reversed.  The tables turned again at the Texas Supreme Court, which ultimately held that the boundary stipulation was valid and that the defendants conclusively established their ratification defense, but the case is still ongoing.
Continue Reading Texas Supreme Court Update: Boundary Dispute Between Leasehold Owner and Lessees of Adjacent Tract

On April 5, 2021, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) released its advance notice of proposed rulemaking (“ANPRM”) to solicit public comments on questions pertinent to its implementation of the Corporate Transparency Act’s (“CTA”) beneficial owner reporting requirements. As discussed in a previous Energy Law Blog post, the CTA was adopted as part of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act and requires that certain business entities disclose to FinCEN the identities of their beneficial owners and applicants. The information will then be stored in a secure, private database that may be accessed by, among others, law enforcement agencies for crime prevention and certain financial institutions for customer due diligence purposes. FinCEN has until January 1, 2022, to implement the regulations regarding reporting requirements, although FinCEN is also using this ANPRM to solicit comments on the implementation of the related database maintenance use and disclosure provisions. Final rules on customer due diligence requirements for financial institutions will be the subject of separate rulemaking and comment periods.


Continue Reading FinCEN Seeking Comments on New Beneficial Owner Reporting Requirements

In Mary v. QEP Energy Company, the Western District of Louisiana rejected, for the second time in this case, Plaintiffs’ claims seeking a disgorgement of QEP’s profits.  QEP was the lessee of a mineral lease covering Plaintiffs’ property, but because it wanted to transport off-site gas across their property, QEP also obtained a pipeline

The Corporate Transparency Act, adopted as part of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (the “Act”), will require certain business entities (defined as “reporting companies”) to disclose to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) the identities of their beneficial owners and applicants. FinCEN will use these disclosures to create a

In Tier 1 Resources Partners et al. v. Delaware Basin Resources LLC, 08-20-00060-CV, the Court of Appeals for the Eighth District of Texas (El Paso) recently held oral argument on the proper construction of the word “and” used in a Delaware Basin oil and gas lease.  The meaning of the word is hotly contested

This blog post is the first in a series of blog posts that will discuss some of the nuances of Louisiana property law relating to solar leasing. With solar companies entering the Louisiana market, many of which having no prior experience in Louisiana, it is important to identify and avoid some pitfalls that may not be immediately obvious to the common-law practitioner.


Continue Reading Solar Leasing in Louisiana: Who to Lease?

On July 15, 2020, The Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion awarding damages for a violation of due process rights against a private pipeline company.  Bayou Bridge Pipeline, LLC v. 38.00 Acres, More or Less, Located in St. Martin Parish, et al.[1] (“Bayou Bridge”) centers around the construction of a crude oil pipeline from the Clifton Ridge terminal in Lake Charles, Louisiana to a marketing hub in St. James, Louisiana.  The 38 acres relevant to this lawsuit were in St. Martin Parish and were needed for construction of the pipeline.  While Bayou Bridge Pipeline, LLC (“BBP”) identified approximately 470 heirs to the title of the property, it began construction on the Defendant Landowners’ (“Defendants” or “Landowners”) property in June 2018 prior to receiving servitude agreements from each person having ownership interest.
Continue Reading Louisiana Third Circuit Decision Imposes Damages for Due Process Violation on Private Company

Commercial Lease Considerations in the Wake of Hurricane Laura

Following disasters such as Hurricane Laura, business owners have a variety of concerns when beginning the recovery process. Chief among those concerns: what to do when your place of business has been damaged or destroyed? If you lease your place of business, or if you lease out land or buildings to other people for their businesses, this concern becomes especially important when you consider the different parties with a potential interest in the recovery—the lessor (landlord), the lessor’s insurer, the lessor’s lender, the lessee (tenant), the lessee’s insurer, and the lessee’s lender. Being familiar with your lease agreement is the key to understanding the extent of your rights and responsibilities, especially as they pertain to repair obligations, obligations regarding the payment or reimbursement of insurance deductibles, insurance recovery, and rights to termination and reduction (abatement) of rent. As an initial matter, the first question you should ask yourself is: What kind of lease agreement do I have?
Continue Reading Commercial Lease Considerations in the Wake of Hurricane Laura