On May 21, 2024, a group of 20 states, including Louisiana and Texas, filed an action in North Dakota district court challenging the Council on Environmental Quality’s (“CEQ”) finalized amendments to its National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) regulations, arguing that the rule seeks expanded environmental review without statutory authority.
Continue Reading Louisiana and Texas Challenge CEQ’s Finalized NEPA Amendments 

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently certified a question to the Texas Supreme Court asking what effect a free-use clause and an off-lease clause have on a royalty clause valuing royalties at the well. At issue was whether gas used as fuel off the leased premises could be deducted from royalties when the royalties were to be valued at the well under an oil and gas lease containing an off-lease clause and a free-use clause. Texas Supreme Court precedent provides that when a lease states that royalties must be valued on the gross proceeds received by lessees, free-use clauses do not allow for gas used as fuel off the leased premises to be deducted, but it is not clear on whether that same rationale would apply when royalties are valued at the well. Given that uncertainty, the Fifth Circuit could not confidently make an Erie guess on the issue and instead opted to certify the question to the Texas Supreme Court.
Continue Reading At the Well vs. Off the Lease: The Fifth Circuit Asks the Texas Supreme Court to Determine Whether Off-Lease Fuel May be Deducted from Royalties Valued at the Well

Recent technology has made produced water—a byproduct of fracing that was traditionally considered waste—a valuable product. However, no legal guidance existed on whether produced water was owned by mineral owners or surface owners. The Texas Legislature resolved some of that uncertainty by passing Texas Natural Resources Code § 122.002 on September 1, 2019, which generally grants title to produced water to whoever takes possession of it for the purpose of treating it for subsequent beneficial use. However, this statute only governs parties to instruments executed after September 1, 2019, which left parties to instruments executed prior to that date uncertain on whether they owned the produced water extracted from their property. The El Paso Court of Appeals undertook to resolve this conflict in Cactus Water Services, LLC v. COG Operating, LLC, and on July 28, 2023, it held that when instruments convey “oil and gas” or “oil, gas and hydrocarbons” to mineral owners without specifically reserving title to produced water or oil and gas waste, mineral owners have the sole right to produced water extracted from their property.
Continue Reading One Man’s Waste is Another Man’s Treasure: Texas Appellate Court Holds that Produced Water Belongs to Mineral Owners

On May 25, 2023, the Nation’s first U.S.-built offshore wind substation departed from a Texas fabrication facility for the South Fork Wind Farm in federal waters on the New York outer continental shelf. This marks the start of Jones Act compliant offshore wind support vessels being manufactured domestically, including the first-ever U.S. flagged wind turbine installation vessel (“WTIV”) and offshore wind service operations vessel (“SOV”), both of which are currently under construction in Texas and Louisiana, respectively.
Continue Reading MADE IN AMERICA: U.S.-Built Offshore Wind Substation and Support Vessels Start to Set Sail for Federal Waters

On June 16, the Texas Supreme Court considered the award of noneconomic damages in the amount of just over $15 million in a wrongful death case arising from a trucking accident. In a plurality opinion, the Court reversed and remanded for a new trial, holding that the jury’s discretion to make an award is limited and that noneconomic damages must be supported by evidence of the nature, duration, and severity of the injury to support both the existence and the amount of compensable loss. Additionally, the Court held that unsubstantiated arguments to the jury, such as comparisons of mental anguish to the cost of a fighter jet, a work of art, or miles driven by a defendant’s vehicles, are improper.
Continue Reading “Juries cannot simply pick a number and put it in the blank.” – Texas Supreme Court Remands Case Involving $15 Million Jury Award for Noneconomic Damages Where Award was Unsupported and Arguments to the Jury Unsubstantiated

In Freeport-McMoRan Oil & Gas LLC v. 1776 Energy Partners, LLC, — S.W.3d —, No. 22-0095, 2023 WL 3556695 (Tex. 2023), the Texas Supreme Court held that, as a matter of law, the operator of a joint operating agreement, Ovintiv, did not owe interest on production payments owed to the non-operator, 1776 Energy, that

The pursuit of alternative energy sources has become increasingly important in our quest for a sustainable future. Lithium, a key component in rechargeable batteries, has emerged as a vital element for powering electric vehicles and storing renewable energy. The rising demand for lithium, combined with Federal tax credits for lithium production, has intensified lithium exploration

In Point Energy Partners Permian, LLC v. MRC Permian Company, — S.W.3d —, No. 21-0461, 2023 WL 3028100 (Tex. 2023), the Texas Supreme Court held that the lessee could not invoke a force majeure clause to save its oil and gas leases when it inadvertently scheduled its operations to begin after the requisite deadline.

On August 20, 2018, Noble House’s yacht lost its port-side rudder while entering a channel in the Bahamas. The following day, Noble House advised Underwriters at Lloyd’s, its insurer, of the casualty, whose policy allegedly covered the claim. Noble House purchased the policy from Underwriters by way of a Texas-based insurance broker in February 2018.

The Texas Supreme Court recently released its opinion in Devon Energy Production Company, L.P. v. Sheppard, — S.W.3d —, No. 20-0904, 2023 WL 2438927 (Tex. 2023), in which it held that lessees owed royalties in excess of their gross proceeds, specifically “adding back” costs incurred by third-party buyers that were enumerated in the sales