On June 29, 2021, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, held that a natural gas company’s right to condemn property for a pipeline under the Natural Gas Act includes the right to condemn state-owned property. In PennEast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey,[1] the divided Court held that a certificate from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) entitled PennEast Pipeline Company (PennEast) to use the federal government’s power of eminent domain to seize property owned by the State of New Jersey.
Continue Reading United States Supreme Court Blocks New Jersey’s Sovereign Immunity Challenge to FERC Certificate Holder’s Condemnation of State-Owned Land

Recent jurisprudential and legislative developments have significantly altered the Louisiana state tax penalty regime.  First, the Louisiana Supreme Court on November 4, 2020 denied the Louisiana Department of Revenue’s writ application in Smith International, Inc. v. Kimberly Robinson, Secretary, Louisiana Department of Revenue [1], rendering the earlier decision by the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal final.  Now, the penalties imposed by Acts 2015, No. 128, eff. July 1, 2015 cannot be applied to tax periods prior to July 1, 2015.  In addition, the late payment penalty in La. R.S. 47:1602(A) is no longer applicable to amounts later assessed on taxpayers who timely filed their returns and remitted the amount of tax shown as due on their tax returns.  Taxpayers under audit should object to the Department of Revenue asserting these penalties in audit workpapers.
Continue Reading Recent Changes to Louisiana Tax Penalty Regime

The Louisiana Supreme Court addressed the role of the Louisiana Tax Commission in its decision in the case of D90 Energy, LLC v. Jefferson Davis Parish Board of Review, No. 2020-C000200.   While the case addressed the property tax assessments of a specific taxpayer, its larger importance is the holding regarding the role of the Louisiana Tax Commission in its review of local property tax assessments, including the assessments of oil and gas property.  Louisiana property is assessed by the assessor for the parish where the property is located.  The Louisiana Constitution provides a process for the taxpayer to seek review of an assessment that the taxpayer believes is incorrect.  La. Const. art. VII, section 18(E) provides that “[t]he correctness of assessments by the assessor shall be subject to review first by the parish governing authority, then by the Louisiana Tax Commission or its successor, and finally by the courts, all in accordance with procedures established by law.”
Continue Reading Louisiana Supreme Court Addresses the Role of Louisiana Tax Commission

In May 2018, oil and gas industry defendants removed a docket of 42 cases alleging violations of Louisiana’s coastal zone management laws to federal court in the Eastern and Western Districts of Louisiana (“CZM cases”).  One year later, the Eastern District granted motions to remand filed by Plaquemines Parish and the State of Louisiana in Parish of Plaquemines v. Riverwood Production Company, et al. (“Riverwood”), No. 18-5217, 2019 WL 2271118 (E.D. La. May 28, 2019).  The Western District recently joined the Eastern District and granted similar remand motions filed by Cameron Parish and the State of Louisiana in Parish of Cameron, et al. v. Auster Oil & Gas Incorporated, et al. (“Auster”), No. 18-677, 2019 WL 4734394 (W.D. La. Sept. 26, 2019), —F. Supp. 3d—.  Although there are procedural differences between Riverwood and Auster, both district courts found no federal officer or federal question jurisdiction over the CZM cases.  The Fifth Circuit is poised to resolve these jurisdictional issues in the upcoming year. 
Continue Reading Second Remand Order in Coastal Zone Management Cases Pending Before Fifth Circuit

In a victory for the oil and gas industry, the Third Circuit rendered a decision rejecting attempts by the Louisiana Department of Revenue to impose severance taxes on crude oil production based on index pricing.  The Third Circuit reaffirmed that severance taxes should be based on the “gross proceeds” obtained in an arm’s length sale at the lease.  The Department had sought additional severance taxes from numerous Louisiana producers that sold crude oil in arm’s length sales at the lease. The contracts provided that the sales price of the crude oil was based on index pricing, less an amount sometimes designated as a “transportation differential” or simply as a deduction. The Department argued that this “differential” or deduction must be “disallowed” when computing severance taxes, effectively imposing severance taxes on the index pricing.  The Louisiana Board of Tax Appeals, faced with numerous cases raising this same issue, heard a “test case” involving Avanti Exploration, LLC. The BTA held that the Department’s theories were invalid, and severance tax properly was based on the actual “gross receipts” received by the producer in an arm’s length sale.  In a decision issued on April 17, 2019, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that, pursuant to the Louisiana Constitution, the severance tax statutes, and the Department regulations, in the absence of any “posted field price,” severance taxes must be based on the actual “gross receipts” received by the producer in an arm’s length sale at the lease.


Continue Reading Liskow Obtains Victory for the Oil and Gas Industry in the Louisiana Third Circuit

In a decision announced this week, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality and method of compensation for the expropriation by a governmental body of property owned by an ongoing commercial venture.   In St. Bernard Port, Harbor & Terminal District v. Violet Dock Port, Inc., LLC, the St. Bernard Port, Harbor & Terminal District (the “Port”), a government-owned public cargo facility, sought to expand its operations along the Mississippi River. The Port unsuccessfully negotiated the purchase of 75 acres of property owned by Violet Dock Port, Inc., LLC (the “Landowner”) which utilized the property to layberth and service oceangoing ships for the United States Navy.  The Port subsequently expropriated the property under the quick-take expropriation provisions of LA. R.S. 19:141, et seq., for a purported compensation of $16 million. 
Continue Reading Louisiana Supreme Court Upholds Expropriation of Commercial Venture

The Third Circuit recently released an unpublished opinion making clear that when a pipeline company expropriates a servitude, the servitude is “perpetual,” and a Court cannot impose a term on that servitude.  The Third Circuit also held that a landowner must prove any damages over and above the fair market value of the property, and cannot award an additional amount simply because the landowner is upset that the property is being expropriated.
Continue Reading Expropriated Servitudes: They Aren’t Going Away Anytime Soon

The question often arises whether, in Louisiana, a party can file in the public record a “memorandum of servitude” rather than the full servitude.  If the parties do that, any unrecorded provisions may not be binding on third parties. Other states’ laws may provide that recordation of such a memorandum of easement, the common law equivalent of a servitude, suffices to bind third parties to all the provisions in the unrecorded easement.
Continue Reading Servitudes: Didn’t They Get the Memo?

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

On August 16th, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (“PHMSA”) issued an advisory bulletin to clarify the regulatory requirements that may vary depending on the operational status of a pipeline under 49 C.F.R. Parts 192 and 195 (2016).
Continue Reading All or Nothing: Regulators Strictly Define Pipeline Abandonment