Archives: Environmental Regulatory

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DOI Announcement of a Proposed Rule on Risk Management, Financial Assurance and Loss Prevention

The long-awaited proposed changes to the Department of Interior’s Financial Assurance Rule (“Proposed Rule”) were finally announced yesterday by the Trump Administration.  The announcement provides, among other things, that the proposed rulemaking is in efforts to clarify, streamline and provide greater transparency to the financial assurance requirements (e.g., supplemental bonding) for OCS lessees and grant … Continue Reading

Climate Change Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Kicks Climate Change Case Back to State Court

Amidst historically low oil prices and economic shutdowns, fossil fuel companies continue to defend against lawsuits brought by state and local governments claiming climate-change related damages.  In two companion cases, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided whether a federal district court could properly exercise jurisdiction over climate … Continue Reading

OSHA Addresses Reporting COVID-19 Cases as Job-Related and In-Person Workplace Inspections

On May 19, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued two noteworthy enforcement memos. The first memo announced the reversal of OSHA’s April 10, 2020 policy that limited the requirement to track on-the-job cases of COVID-19 to health-care facilities, emergency response providers, and corrections facilities. The new policy, which goes into effect on May 26, … Continue Reading

The Supreme Court Looks for a Middle Ground to Determine When Clean Water Act Permit is Required for Discharges to Groundwater

On April 23, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion in County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al., where the Court held that, in limited circumstances, a party discharging pollutants into groundwater that ultimately end up in navigable waters will need a permit under the Clean Water Act.… Continue Reading

ARCO v. Christian: Supreme Court Allows State Law Claims for Restoration Damages in Excess of EPA Superfund Cleanup, but EPA Must Approve Any Additional Remedial Action

This week, in a split 7-2 opinion authored by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court held that Montana state law claims brought by private landowners against Atlantic Richfield Company (“ARCO”) for alleged impacts from the Anaconda Smelter Superfund site are not preempted by CERCLA and are not precluded by ARCO’s settlement of EPA’s CERCLA claims; … Continue Reading

Commissioner of Conservation Issues Letter Addressing Emergency Measures to Help Louisiana Oil and Gas Industry

The impacts of COVID-19 have rapidly swept across the country and the globe. Coupled with the recent decline in oil and gas prices, many operators are left scrambling in an attempt to navigate unprecedented circumstances.  With shutdowns and stay-at-home orders in place and regulatory deadlines looming, Louisiana operators are looking for guidance from regulators on … Continue Reading

U.S. Climate Change Litigation: 2020 Update

Since the initiation of climate change litigation several years ago, various state governments and interest groups have filed lawsuits against fossil fuel companies and governing authorities.  The current landscape consists of (1) two lawsuits brought by state governments against an oil and gas company alleging investor fraud; (2) numerous cities, counties, and other local governments … Continue Reading

OSHA Awards Damages for Retaliatory Discharge of Jones Act Seaman in Violation of Seaman’s Protection Act

In a stark reminder of the sanctity of Coast Guard investigations, and the consequences of impeding such investigations, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) recently took action against a maritime employer for allegedly retaliating against a seaman who cooperated with the Coast Guard in connection with its investigation of a … Continue Reading

SCOTUS Decides Dutra Group v. Batterton

Today the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in this landmark case concerning punitive damages.  The six justices in the majority opinion reversed the Ninth Circuit and resolved a circuit split on this issue.  The question presented was whether punitive damages may be awarded to a Jones Act seaman in a personal injury suit … Continue Reading

EPA’s New Audit Program for New Owners of Upstream Oil and Natural Gas Facilities

On March 29, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it had finalized a voluntary disclosure program for new owners of upstream oil and natural gas exploration and production facilities. Under the program, EPA will not impose any civil penalties on new owners of these facilities (which include well sites and associated tanks and … Continue Reading

Alaska District Court Vacates Trump Executive Order On Offshore Leasing

On March 29, 2019, Alaska Federal District Court Judge Sharon Gleason granted summary judgment in favor of plaintiff environmental groups in League of Conservation Voters v. Trump, 3:17-00101.  The case stems from Executive Orders issued under the Obama Administration in 2015 and 2016 which withdrew certain areas in the Arctic and Atlantic regions from exploration … Continue Reading

U.S. Fifth Circuit Affirms $20 Million Judgment Against Barge Owner as Responsible Party Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990

Case:    United States v. American Commercial Lines, L.L.C., No. 16-31150, ___ F.3d ___ (5th Cir. 11/7/17). Factual Background In July of 2008, nearly 300,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Mississippi River in New Orleans when a tugboat towing an oil-filled barge veered across the river into the path of an ocean-going tanker.  American … Continue Reading

The Fifth Circuit Rejects the DOJ’s Attempt to Charge Black Elk Contractors with OCSLA Felonies

In the aftermath of a 2012 platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in which three workers were killed, the Department of Justice ultimately indicted the contractors who supervised the work (along with the lease holder, Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC) with violating the Outer Continental Shelf Land Act (“OCSLA”), a felony carrying a … Continue Reading
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