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Department of Interior Proposes New Financial Assurance and Decommissioning Regulations

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) recently issued a proposed rule on Risk Management, Financial Assurance and Loss Prevention (“Proposed Rule”), which was published in the Federal Register on October 16, 2020 and is now open for public comment. The Proposed Rule is the result … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court To Review Scope of Appellate Review for Federal Officer Removal in Climate Change Litigation

Today, the United States Supreme Court granted a Petition for Certiorari filed by energy companies in Baltimore’s climate change lawsuit.  By granting the petition, the Supreme Court has agreed to review the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision remanding the suit to state court after rejecting the energy companies’ contention that they were acting as … Continue Reading

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

U.S. Customs Revokes Recent Offshore Wind Ruling; Maintains Uncertainty Whether the Jones Act Applies to Wind Farm Installations on the OCS

On July 15, 2020, the Unites States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) issued a ruling (HQ H309672) in connection with the installation of an offshore wind farm located off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts in U.S. territorial waters (the “July 15 Ruling”).  CBP determined that activities to be conducted in connection with the … Continue Reading

U.S. Department of Interior Announces Formal Partnership with Norway to Promote and Share Offshore Energy Knowledge and Experience

Yesterday, the United State Department of Interior (DOI) announced the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy of the Kingdom of Norway to formalize a partnership to share best practices, knowledge, experience, policy, and regulatory initiatives in connection with the development of as oil, gas, and wind energy … 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

COVID-19 as a Force Majeure? The Texas and Louisiana Perspectives

Today, countries worldwide are responding to a pandemic of respiratory disease spreading from person-to-person caused by a novel coronavirus.  The disease has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).  The pandemic poses a serious public health risk, and government response has included closure of schools and businesses, declarations of emergency, and issuance of a variety … 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

Federal Offshore Pipeline Decommissioning in BOEM Significant Sediment Resource Areas

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of denials of applications to decommission offshore pipelines in place in a departure from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (“BSEE”) longstanding practices.  The denials are accompanied by an order from BSEE to decommission the pipelines by removal, with reference to Notice to … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit to Hold Oral Argument in Sojitz v. UNOCAL in April 2020

Last year, in another dispute over who should bear the cost of decommissioning offshore facilities, the Southern District of Texas held that a former sub-assignee of offshore operating rights was entitled to equitable subrogation from the record title owner and initial assignor.  Sojitz Energy Venture, Inc. v. Union Oil Co. of California, 394 F. Supp. … Continue Reading

Increasing Scrutiny of Foreign Investment in the U.S.: BOEM Puts Companies on Notice of Potential CFIUS Review of Bids at Upcoming Federal Offshore Lease Sale

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) recently issued an Information to Lessees (ITL) regarding the potential applicability of new regulations issued by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to bids at the upcoming March 18th federal offshore lease sale (Lease Sale 254), which will offer for lease all available, unleased … 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

Possible Change to Jones Act Interpretations Regarding Coastwise Activities

The saga of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) ten-year effort to amend its interpretation of key components of the Jones Act continues.  After failed attempts to expand the scope of the Jones Act’s prohibition on activities by non-coastwise endorsed vessels in 2009 and 2017, CBP recently published a notice of proposed modification and … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Affirms Trial Court’s Refusal to Adopt DNR’s Most Feasible Plan in Sweet Lake Land & Oil Co. v. Oleum Operating Company

The Louisiana Legislature passed “Act 312,” La. R.S. 30:29, in 2006 to provide a procedure for ensuring that amounts awarded to remediate environmental damage are actually spent on remediation.  Act 312 sets forth a multi-step scheme that is triggered once a party is found responsible for environmental damage, culminating with Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) … 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 Greenlights Contribution Action for Purely Economic Damages Under Oil Pollution Act (OPA)

In Settoon Towing, L.L.C. v. Marquette Transportation Company, L.L.C., No. 16-30459 (5th Cir. Jun. 9, 2017), the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held for the first time that a Responsible Party under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (“OPA”) has a statutory claim for contribution to recover purely economic damages from a partially … 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

Leave It to the States: Oklahoma Federal Court Dismisses Fracking Suit In Favor Of Administrative Regulation

On April 4, 2017, a federal district court dismissed a citizen-enforcement action under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act that could have profound impact on fracking suits against the oil and gas industry. In Sierra Club v. Chesapeke Operating, LLC, the Sierra Club alleged that the deep injection of liquid waste from oil and gas … 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

Senator John Kennedy’s Letter to President Donald Trump: A First Step in Reviving the Oil & Gas Industry in Louisiana

In December of 2016, Republican John Kennedy won the United States Senate runoff election in Louisiana. On the campaign trail, Senator Kennedy promised to do his part in strengthening the declining oil and gas industry in Louisiana by easing restrictions imposed by the Obama Administration and fighting to bring back old jobs and create new … 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
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