The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently certified a question to the Texas Supreme Court asking what effect a free-use clause and an off-lease clause have on a royalty clause valuing royalties at the well. At issue was whether gas used as fuel off the leased premises could be deducted from royalties when the royalties were to be valued at the well under an oil and gas lease containing an off-lease clause and a free-use clause. Texas Supreme Court precedent provides that when a lease states that royalties must be valued on the gross proceeds received by lessees, free-use clauses do not allow for gas used as fuel off the leased premises to be deducted, but it is not clear on whether that same rationale would apply when royalties are valued at the well. Given that uncertainty, the Fifth Circuit could not confidently make an Erie guess on the issue and instead opted to certify the question to the Texas Supreme Court.
Continue Reading At the Well vs. Off the Lease: The Fifth Circuit Asks the Texas Supreme Court to Determine Whether Off-Lease Fuel May be Deducted from Royalties Valued at the Well

A Louisiana federal court recently blocked EPA and DOJ from enforcing Title VI against the State of Louisiana to require disparate and cumulative impact analyses under federal environmental justice (EJ) policies for its state permitting. Read more about this decision and its ramifications here.
Continue Reading EJ Evolution: Court Enjoins EPA from Imposing Disparate Impact Requirements via Title VI in Louisiana Permitting

In the recent First Circuit Court of Appeal decision reinstating the Formosa facility permits, the court clarified that consideration of environmental justice is included in the Louisiana Public Trust Doctrine. To learn more about how this opinion may affect permit challenges and permit requirements, read more here.
Continue Reading Louisiana Appeals Court Finds Environmental Justice Is Part of the Louisiana Public Trust Duty

In the Fifth Circuit’s first application of Sackett v. EPA, the court ends a ten-year conflict regarding federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction over a Louisiana property, holding that under the new Supreme Court standard no WOTUS exist on the property.
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Applies U.S. Supreme Court’s Sackett Decision to End Long-Standing WOTUS Dispute

A federal appeals court has affirmed that a “greenwashing” lawsuit by the District of Columbia against several major energy companies should not be heard in federal court. In doing so, the court found itself “in accord with the other courts of appeals, which have unanimously found there is no federal jurisdiction where state or local governments have brought state-law actions against energy companies for conduct relating to climate change.” District of Columbia v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al., No. 22-7163 (Dec. 19, 2023) (“D.C. v. Exxon”).
Continue Reading Climate-Related Lawsuits Continue to Return to State Courts: Understanding The Latest Ruling from District of Columbia v. Exxon Mobil Corporation

EPA and the Army Corps published their new regulatory definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) today in response to the Supreme Court’s landmark Sackett decision from earlier this year. While the rule clearly narrows the scope of federally regulated wetlands, ambiguity remains as to certain types of wetlands.
Continue Reading EPA and Army Corps Release New WOTUS Rule

Recent technology has made produced water—a byproduct of fracing that was traditionally considered waste—a valuable product. However, no legal guidance existed on whether produced water was owned by mineral owners or surface owners. The Texas Legislature resolved some of that uncertainty by passing Texas Natural Resources Code § 122.002 on September 1, 2019, which generally grants title to produced water to whoever takes possession of it for the purpose of treating it for subsequent beneficial use. However, this statute only governs parties to instruments executed after September 1, 2019, which left parties to instruments executed prior to that date uncertain on whether they owned the produced water extracted from their property. The El Paso Court of Appeals undertook to resolve this conflict in Cactus Water Services, LLC v. COG Operating, LLC, and on July 28, 2023, it held that when instruments convey “oil and gas” or “oil, gas and hydrocarbons” to mineral owners without specifically reserving title to produced water or oil and gas waste, mineral owners have the sole right to produced water extracted from their property.
Continue Reading One Man’s Waste is Another Man’s Treasure: Texas Appellate Court Holds that Produced Water Belongs to Mineral Owners

The Louisiana Third Circuit recently affirmed a trial court discovery ruling that allowed the defendant to design its own e-discovery protocol without input from plaintiffs. In doing so, the Third Circuit bolstered the longstanding principle that trial courts have considerable discretion over discovery issues.
Continue Reading E-Discovery Update: Louisiana Third Circuit Affirms Defendant’s Authority to Govern Its Own E-Discovery Protocols

Louisiana State Mineral and Energy Board to Consider Retaining Outside Counsel to Pursue Claims Against Louisiana Mineral Lessees and Well Operators for Failure to Correctly or Timely Pay Royalties.
Continue Reading Louisiana State Mineral Board to Consider Retaining Third Party Counsel to Pursue Underpayment of Royalty Claims Associated with Natural Gas Production on State Lands and Waterbottoms

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the Louisiana Third Circuit Appeal affirmed the authority of the Louisiana Tax Commission to correct property tax assessments of #pipelines when a local assessor uses values that are too high or do not reflect fair market value. Cheryl Kornick represented the taxpayer in this matter.
Continue Reading Louisiana Third Circuit Affirms Authority of Tax Commission to Correct Pipeline Property Tax Assessments