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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 Commercial … Continue Reading

Plaintiffs and Defendants Jointly Choose First Cases for Trial in Plaquemines Parish Coastal Zone Management Act Litigation

The first five Plaquemines Parish Coastal Zone Management Act (“CZMA”) cases to be set for trial have been chosen. The Plaintiffs selected Parish of Plaquemines v. Rozel Operating Company, et al., Parish of Plaquemines v. ConocoPhillips Company, et al., and Parish of Plaquemines v. Hilcorp Energy Company, et al.  The Defendants picked Parish of Plaquemines v. … 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

U.S. Fifth Circuit Adopts Broad Definition of “Good Faith” for Louisiana Environmental Whistleblower Claims

On June 1, 2017, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Borcik v. Crosby Tugs, L.L.C. applied a broad definition of the intent required of a plaintiff under the Louisiana Environmental Whistleblower Act.  In doing so, both the Fifth Circuit and the Louisiana Supreme Court apply a more plaintiff friendly standard to claims … Continue Reading

United States Supreme Court Limits Forums Available to Railroad Workers

The United States Supreme Court, in BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell (May 30, 2017), declined to allow a personal injury plaintiff to sue a railroad company in a state in which the railroad does business but is not incorporated or headquartered.  In BNSF Railway Co., two plaintiffs brought suit for injuries in Montana “although the … Continue Reading

A Summary of Professor Jim Rossi’s Lecture on the “Federalism Battles in Energy Transportation”

Professor Jim Rossi’s lecture on “Federalism Battles in Energy Transportation,” specifically whether the federal or state government is the proper authority to exercise its eminent domain and regulatory power. … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Dismisses False Claims Act Suit Alleging Violation Of Offshore Regulations

In Abbott v. BP, the plaintiffs alleged that BP had falsely certified to compliance with regulatory requirements pertaining to the engineering of the Atlantis Platform, a semi-submersible floating production facility capable of producing more than 100,000 barrels/day.  Based on these allegations, Plaintiff Kenneth Abbott filed a qui tam suit under the False Claims Act (FCA), … Continue Reading

Oregon Federal Court Issues Remarkable Decision Finding Constitutional Right to Stable Climate

Photo of a blue sky with white, fluffy cloudsOn November 10, 2016, Judge Ann Aiken, a federal district judge in Oregon, issued a remarkable environmental law decision in which she found that a climate system “capable of sustaining human life” is a fundamental constitutional right.[1] Juliana v. United States challenges the constitutionality of the United States’ decades-long policy on climate change.[2] The plaintiffs, … Continue Reading

FERC Rejects Sierra Club’s Request for Rehearing and Green Lights $3.5B LNG Export Facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana

On November 23, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) confirmed its authorization of the construction of a $3.5 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana and rejected the Sierra Club’s request for rehearing on the matter. In an April 15, 2016 Order, FERC authorized Magnolia LNG, LLC to site, construct, … Continue Reading

THE DISPUTE BETWEEN GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS AND ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF LANDRY OVER THE APPOINTMENT OF PRIVATE LEGAL COUNSEL CONTINUES…

On September 30, 2016, Governor John Bel Edwards sued Attorney General Jeff Landry to compel him to approve several contracts between the Governor’s office and private legal counsel. In his Petition, the Governor alleged that the Attorney General’s role in approving the Governor’s contracts with private legal counsel is a ministerial duty that the Attorney General … Continue Reading

New Government Contractor “Blacklisting” Reporting Requirements Put on Hold

Hours before a controversial set of new reporting requirements for government contractors was set to take effect, a federal court in Texas enjoined implementation of the requirements across the country.… Continue Reading

Attorney General Finds Governor’s Contract for Legal Services Not Approvable, Unacceptable, Illegal, and Unconstitutional

The dispute between Governor John Bel Edwards and Attorney General Jeff Landry over the retention of several private attorneys to represent the State of Louisiana, through the Department of Natural Resources (“LDNR”) in coastal loss litigation has taken a new twist.  These lawsuits were filed by several parish governments alleging dozens of oil and gas … Continue Reading

Louisiana Flooding – Legal Update

The Liskow & Lewis family stands by our friends and neighbors throughout the unprecedented flooding in our community. As we begin the long process of recovery, here is a brief legal update on the response of various courts and state agencies: State courts: Governor John Bel Edwards has issued an executive order which purports to suspend … Continue Reading

First Parish Coastal Zone Lawsuit to Proceed to Decision Falls for Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

The first of 40 coastal permitting lawsuits to proceed to disposition has been dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. In a ruling released today, Judge Enright of the 24th JDC for Jefferson Parish dismissed The Parish of Jefferson v. Atlantic Richfield Company, finding that the statutory scheme at issue provided administrative channels to investigate and … Continue Reading

BOEM Releases Long Awaited New Financial Assurance Notice to Lessees and Operators

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) released its long awaited new Notice to Lessees and Operators (NTL) updating the procedures and criteria used to determine when and if additional supplemental financial assurance is required for an Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) lease, pipeline right-of-way, or right-of-use and easement.  New BOEM NTL No. 2016-N01, dated July … Continue Reading

SAFE PIPES Act: 2016 Legislation Affecting PHMSA

President Obama signed the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act or the SAFE PIPES Act into law on June 22, 2016.  The Safe Pipes Act reauthorizes the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (“PHMSA”) through 2019 as well as its associated programs, including the one-call notification program, the pipeline integrity program, and … Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Rules Oil and Gas Producer Not Entitled to Sales Tax “Manufacturing Exemption”

On June 17, 2016, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that an oil and gas producer (“Southwest”) was not entitled to a statutory exemption from sales taxes on its purchases of casing, tubing and pumps used in the production of oil and gas (the “Equipment”). At issue in Southwest Royalties, Inc. v. Hegar was whether the … Continue Reading

Amendment to Louisiana’s Risk Fee Statute That Allows For Notices After Spudding Is Awaiting Governor’s Signature

Effective upon signature of the Governor, the Louisiana Legislature will have amended the Risk Fee Statute, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 30:10, which governs unit operations in the absence of a joint operating agreement.  The amendment is contained in Senate Bill No. 388, and would make the changes summarized below. Notices Allowed After Spudding Under … Continue Reading

Regulating the Regulators: Supreme Court Allows Judicial Review of Clean Water Act Determinations

The United States Supreme Court recently addressed whether the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ determination that wetlands are “waters of the United States” constitutes a final agency action that is subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., Inc., 15-290, 2016 WL 3041052 (U.S. … Continue Reading

Failure to Timely Pay Texas Ad Valorem Taxes: Reminders for Taxpayers and Secured Lenders

The extended downturn in the oilfield economy is showing up in some taxpayers’ inability to pay their Texas real property and personal property ad valorem taxes when those taxes become due.  This note reminds taxpayers what happens when the ad valorem taxes are not timely paid.  It also reminds lenders with security interests in real … Continue Reading

New Developments in the Determination of the Texas Franchise Tax Liability

The Texas Franchise Tax is imposed on taxable entities that do business in Texas or that are chartered or organized in the state.  Taxpayers subject to the Texas Franchise Tax may compute their tax liabilities under several alternative methods to determine which one results in the lowest amount of tax due. One such method is … Continue Reading

Clean Power Plan: The Legal Battle Continues

The group of petitioners challenging the EPA rules imposing strict limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants filed its opening briefs on Friday, February 19.  The lawsuit, West Virginia v. EPA (D.C. Cir. No. 15-1363) is unusual because of its sheer volume.  Petitioners include thirty States, State agencies, and local government entities and … Continue Reading
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