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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

The Dusky Gopher Frog Causes Big Problems for Industrial and Commercial Development in Parts of St. Tammany Parish

In 2010, under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“the FWS”) designated 6,477 acres in Mississippi and Louisiana as “critical habitat” for the Rana sevosa or the dusky gopher frog.  This frog has historically lived in nine counties or parishes across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.  Since its 2001 designation … Continue Reading

EPA Biting Off More Than It Can Chew? Agency Publishes First Year Implementation Plan for New TSCA Legislation

This is Part II of our TSCA update following the recent changes to the TSCA legislation. On June 29, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released its first year implementation plan for the recently-enacted amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”).  Faced with the ambitious requirements and timeframes laid out by the Frank … 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

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

New Judge, Same Result – $81 Million CWA Civil Penalty Appealed

U.S. District Court Judge Dee Drell (Western District, LA) recently denied a motion to alter or amend the Court’s judgment against CITGO Petroleum Corp.– allowing an $81 million judgment against the oil company to stand. The judgment is the latest in a suit the EPA filed against CITGO under the Clean Water Act for a … Continue Reading

Environmental Groups File Suit to Compel EPA to Review and Revise Oil and Gas Waste Regulations

On May 4, 2016, environmental groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), seeking to compel EPA to “fulfill long-delayed nondiscretionary duties” under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by issuing revised regulations governing oil and gas wastes.  The complaint alleges that EPA’s regulations “are outdated, contain generic provisions that do not specifically address … Continue Reading

Fracking Scores with Two Colorado Supreme Court Opinions

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a hotly debated topic in many states.  In New York and Pennsylvania, anti-fracking groups have obtained a statewide ban on fracking and the allowance of local authority to regulate fracking, respectively.  Texas, however, has enacted a state law expressly preempting local authority over a number of drilling activities.  In March … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Will Not Rehear Venue Question in Clean Water Act Rule Dispute

On April 21, 2016 the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit denied several petitions for rehearing en banc a Sixth Circuit panel decision that looked at which courts (federal district court or federal courts of appeal) have original jurisdiction to hear challenges to the EPA’s Clean Water Rule.  This recent ruling leaves … Continue Reading

Sea Change: New BOEM Proposed Rule Signals Major Shift in How Air Emissions Would Be Regulated in the OCS

In the next few days, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will publish in the Federal Register a Proposed Rule that would result in a significant change on how the agency regulates air emissions from oil and gas operations on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico (GOM).  … 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

Appellate Review of Downhole Cases: The Supreme Court Repairs the Third Circuit’s Broken Manifest Error Standard in Hayes Fund for the First United Methodist Church of Welsh, LLC v. Kerr-McGee Rocky Mt., LLC, 149 So. 3d 280 (La. App. 3 Cir. 10/01/14)

The Louisiana Supreme Court recently issued a decision in a downhole damages case, reversing the Third Circuit’s misguided application of the manifest error standard of review. Hayes Fund for the First United Methodist Church of Welsh, LLC v. Kerr-McGee Rocky Mt., LLC, No. 2014-C-2592, 2015 La. LEXIS 2530 (La. 2015). The dispute arose out of … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Rejects EPA’s Overreaching on CAA and MBTA

Background The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion regarding criminal liability under environmental statutes.  United States v. Citgo Petroleum Corp., et al., No. 14-40128, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15865 (5th Cir. Sept. 4, 2015).  In what may be considered a warning shot to overzealous federal prosecutors looking to obtain criminal convictions … Continue Reading

Texas Court Rules Lease’s Retained Acreage Clause Incorporates Drilling Unit Size of Statewide Density Rule 38, ConocoPhillips Must Release 15,351 Acres to Lessor

A Texas appeals court recently ruled in ConocoPhillips Company v. Vaquillas Unproven Minerals, Ltd. that a lease’s retained acreage clause invoked the Texas Railroad Commission’s field spacing rule as well as the statewide drilling unit rule, Rule 38, which operated to reduce the acreage the lessee was permitted to retain under the lease from 640 … Continue Reading

Supreme Court of Texas Reverses Appeals Court in Oil and Gas Waste Injection Well Permitting Case

By: Carlos J. Moreno In Railroad Commission of Texas v. Texas Citizens for a Safe Future and Clean Water, No. 08-0497, 2011 WL 836827 (Tex. Mar. 11, 2011), the Supreme Court of Texas reversed the Austin Court of Appeal’s finding that the Railroad Commission (the “Commission”) has to consider broad public safety concerns in the … Continue Reading

U.S. Fifth Circuit Finds Contractual Claim Under JOA Not Impermissible “Collateral Attack”

By Robert L. Theriot In EOG Resources Inc. v. Chesapeake Energy Corp., No. 09-30362, __ F.3d __ (5th Cir. 4/29/10), the Fifth Circuit reinstated EOG’s contractual claim against Chesapeake under the parties’ joint operating agreement (JOA).  EOG claimed that Chesapeake had unilaterally drilled three wells in the parties’ pooled mineral leases in Bossier Parish, Louisiana, without first … Continue Reading

Secretary of Interior Announces Reform in Nation’s Oil and Gas Development Policy

By Matthew Simone On January 6, 2010, the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, announced plans to reform the nation’s policy on oil and gas development in an effort to shift from the Bush Administration’s “anywhere, anyhow” policy. The goals of this reform are to improve environmental protection and to reduce costly litigation and protests. … Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Upholds Railroad Commission’s Regulation of Commingled Oil and/or Gas Drilling and Production

By Leta Seletzky: In Seagull Energy E & P, Inc. v. Railroad Comm’n, No. 03-0364, 2007 WL 1299163 (Tex. May 4, 2007), the Texas Supreme Court affirmed a decision by the Austin Court of Appeals upholding the Railroad Commission of Texas’ authority to regulate both drilling and production of commingled oil and/or gas deposits and … Continue Reading
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