Guidance and Relief for Retirement Plans Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Department of Labor (the “DOL”), the Treasury Department (the “Treasury”), and the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”)  have recently issued guidance extending certain deadlines and providing certain relief for retirement plans in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Discussed below are (1) EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01, (2) DOL “COVID-19 FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries,” (3) IRS Notice 2020-23, and (4)  IRS “Coronavirus-related relief for retirement plans and IRAs questions and answers.” 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, 2020, mandates that all employers who are required to maintain OSHA injury and illness logs determine whether employees’ cases of the COVID-19 virus are “work-related” and record those that meet certain requirements. Specifically, employers subject to OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements must record a case of COVID-19 as job-related if (1) it is a confirmed case of the virus as defined by the CDC, (2) it is “work-related” in that an event or exposure in the work environment either contributed to or caused an employee to contract the virus, and (3) it results in death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness or involves a significant diagnosed injury or illness. Employers who have no recordkeeping obligations need only report work-related COVID-19 illnesses resulting in an employee’s death or in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye. Continue Reading

Applying for Loan Forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

Updated August 31, 2020

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, which established, in relevant part, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan program that offers eligible borrowers the potential for loan forgiveness. For more information on the PPP and other CARES Act lending programs, click here, and for information about applying for PPP loans, click here.

On June 5, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (the Flexibility Act), which amends the CARES Act to make certain changes to PPP loans and to provide more flexibility to borrowers. For an overview of the changes made by the Flexibility Act, click here. To the extent available, this blog post has been updated to incorporate the changes made by the Flexibility Act.

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Third Circuit Issues New Act 312 Decision Involving Prescription and Breach of Contract

The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal recently issued an opinion involving issues of prescription and breach of contract claims in the context of Act 312 and “legacy lawsuits” that oil and gas companies must remain cognizant of going forward. In State of Louisiana, et al. v. Louisiana Land & Exploration Co., et al., the Third Circuit affirmed the Vermilion Parish School Board’s authority to sue on behalf of the state, rejected a prescription defense on the basis of prescription immunity under the Louisiana Constitution, and concluded that a finding of “environmental damage” as defined under Act 312 is sufficient to trigger a breach of contract claim. Continue Reading

IRS Updates Guidance on Temporary Procedures to Fax Forms 1139 and 1045 to Obtain Quick Tentative Refunds due to NOL Carrybacks and Accelerated Use of AMT Carryforward Credits

In an April 17, 2020 post to the Liskow Energy Law Blog, we advised our clients and friends that the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) had published guidance on how refunds attributable to the CARES Act newly-permitted 5-year carryback of NOLs in section 172 of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) and the accelerated use of AMT Carryforward Credits in section 53(e) of the Code can be obtained.   See, J. Bradford, New IRS Guidance on Obtaining Refunds for Net Operating Loss Carrybacks, Corporate AMT Carryforward Credits and Filing Amended Returns for Partnerships (the “Prior Blog Post”).[1]  Since that time, the IRS has published on its website additional guidance in the form of frequently-asked questions and responses (“FAQs”) regarding the implementation of the temporary policy allowing (1) corporations to file by fax Form 1139 – Corporation Application for Tentative Refund (“Form 1139”) to obtain a tentative refund for a prior tax year to which an NOL is carried back pursuant to the new NOL carryback rules and to obtain a tentative refund attributable to implementing the new accelerated use of AMT Carryforward Credits and (2) individuals to file by fax Form 1045 – Application for Tentative Refund (“Form 1045”) to obtain a tentative refund for a prior tax year to which an NOL is carried back.[2] Continue Reading

Louisiana State Mineral and Energy Board Approves Resolutions Providing Relief for State Lessees

A special meeting of the Louisiana State Mineral and Energy Board was held on April 29, 2020, to address the impacts of both COVID-19 and historically low oil prices on operation and maintenance of Louisiana State Leases.  The Board approved two proposed resolutions (1. Proposed Enforcement Moratorium Resolution 2. Proposed Penalty Waiver Resolution) that will assist State Lessees during these difficult times. Continue Reading

Louisiana Second Circuit Provides Guidance as to Good Faith Required When Conducting Operations Necessary to Interrupt Prescription of Mineral Servitude

While the long-term fallout from the recent decline in oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic remains unclear, it is clear that drilling activity has already started to decline. During this downturn in activity, mineral rights owners must remain cognizant of the maintenance activities necessary to preserve their mineral rights.  Cannisnia Plantation, LLC v. Cecil Blount Farms, LLC,[1] is the most recent decision that provides the industry with a real-life application of the rules under Louisiana law for maintaining mineral servitudes. 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; however, any restoration damages awarded to the landowners must be spent on actual restoration of the property, as required by Montana state law, and restoration must be conducted in a manner either approved by the EPA or consistent with the EPA’s already-approved remedial action plan.

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