Articles Posted in Energy, Oil & Gas Law

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Allco appealed the district court's dismissal of two related, but not formally consolidated, complaints that focus on Connecticut's implementation of Connecticut Public Acts 13-303 and 15-107. Allco argued that the state programs violate federal law and the dormant Commerce Clause, and that Connecticut's implementation of the programs has injured Allco. The Second Circuit affirmed and held that Allco failed to state a claim that Connecticut's renewable energy solicitations conducted pursuant Connecticut Public Acts 13-303 and 15-107 were preempted by federal law. The court also held that Allco failed to state a claim that Connecticut's Renewable Portfolio Standard program violates the dormant Commerce Clause. View "Allco Finance Ltd. v. Klee" on Justia Law

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The Water District appealed from the district court's judgment in a consolidated multidistrict litigation granting summary judgment to BP and Shell on the ground that the Water District's suit was barred by res judicata arising from 2002 and 2005 settlements. Claims against BP and Shell for MTBE contamination had been brought by the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) in 1999 and were settled in 2002 and 2005 respectively. The Second Circuit vacated and remanded the Water District's claims against BP and Shell, holding that the Water District and OCDA were not in privity. View "In re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBA) Products Liability Litigation" on Justia Law

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Defendants, the Donziger Firm and others, appealed the district court's grant of certain relief against them in favor of Chevron, in connection with an $8.646 billion judgment obtained against Chevron in Ecuador by the Lago Agrio Plaintiffs represented by the Donziger Firm. The judgment award was for environmental damage in connection with the Texaco oil exploration activities in Ecuador from the 1960s-1990s. On appeal, defendants challenge the district court's judgment, arguing principally that the action should have been dismissed on the ground that Chevron lacks Article III standing, and/or that the judgment should be reversed on the grounds, inter alia, that it violates principles of international comity and judicial estoppel, exceeds any legal authorization for equitable relief, and was entered without personal jurisdiction over defendants other than Donziger and his Firm. The court found no basis for dismissal or reversal in the absence of challenges to the district court's factual findings; considering the express disclaimers by the Ecuadorian appellate courts of their own jurisdiction to "hear and resolve" the above charges of corruption, "preserving the parties' rights" to pursue those charges in actions in the United States; and considering the district court's confinement of its injunction to a grant of in personam relief against the three defendants-appellants without disturbing the Ecuadorian judgment. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Chevron Corp. v. Donziger" on Justia Law

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Hapag‐Lloyd filed an Interpleader Complaint and moved ex parte for an anti‐suit injunction under 28 U.S.C. 2361. The district court granted the motion and enjoined named defendants. The court concluded that adjudication of Hapag‐Lloyd’s obligation to pay for the fuel bunkers at issue involves inextricably intertwined claims, and interpleader jurisdiction is proper under the broad and remedial nature of 28 U.S.C. 1335. The court also concluded that by initiating an interpleader concerning certain in rem claims and posting adequate security for those claims, Hapag‐Lloyd consented to the district court’s jurisdiction over its interests, which is sufficient to confer jurisdiction. However, the court remanded to the district court with instructions to enter an order that eliminates or retains the foreign scope of the injunction, with specific determinations applying the test in China Trade & Dev. Corp. v. M.V. Choong Yong. View "Hapag-Lloyd Aktiengesellschaft v. U.S. Oil Trading LLC" on Justia Law

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has regulatory authority over interstate aspects of the nation’s electric power system, but not over “facilities used in local distribution or only for the transmission of electric energy in intrastate commerce,” 16 U.S.C. 824(a). FERC entered orders adopting standards and procedures for determining which power distribution facilities are subject to the agency’s regulatory jurisdiction and which facilities fall within the statutory exception for local distribution of electric energy. The state and the Public Service Commission of the State of New York challenged the standards and procedures as an unreasonable interpretation of the agency’s statutory grant of jurisdiction and as arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. The Second Circuit upheld the orders as reasonably interpreting the agency’s regulatory jurisdiction under the Federal Power Act as amended by the Electricity Modernization Act of 2005 and supported by sufficient explanation and substantial evidence as required by the Administrative Procedure Act. View "New York v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm'n" on Justia Law

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Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) orders issued in 2013 and 2014 approved the New York Independent System Operator’s (NYISO) creation of a new wholesale electric power “capacity zone” comprising areas of Southeastern New York, including the lower Hudson Valley. The orders followed NYISO’s identification of areas in which customers received power from suppliers located on the other side of a “transmission constraint” in the electrical grid. Because of the way New York’s capacity markets work, NYISO concluded that financial incentives for capacity resources in the transmission‐constrained area that became the Valley Zone were inadequate, jeopardizing the reliability of the grid. FERC’s approval of the Zone, with a new “demand curve” to set capacity prices, were designed to address the reliability problem by providing more accurate price signals to in‐zone resources, but were expected to result in higher prices to customers. Utilities, the state, and the New York Public Service Commission alleged that FERC failed adequately to justify the expected higher prices, particularly without a “phase‐in” of the new zone and its demand curve, in violation of FERC’s statutory mandate to ensure that rates are “just and reasonable,” 16 U.S.C. 824d(a). The Second Circuit rejected the challenge. FERC adequately justified its decisions. View "Cent. Hudson Gas & Elec. Corp. v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm'n" on Justia Law

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This dispute concerns oil and gas leases granting the Energy Companies specified rights to extract oil and gas underlying the Landowners' real property. The Energy Companies failed to produce oil and gas from the properties within the leases' primary terms and the Landowners subsequently filed suit seeking a declaration that the leases had expired. On appeal, the Energy Companies challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment to Landowners, and denial of summary judgment to the Energy Companies. The court concluded that this case turns on significant and novel issues of New York law concerning the interpretation of oil and gas leases and the court certified two questions of New York law to the New York Court of Appeals: (1) Under New York law, and in the context of an oil and gas lease, did the State's Moratorium amount to a force majeure event? and (2) If so, does the force majeure clause modify the habendum clause and extend the primary terms of the leases?View "Beardslee v. Inflection Energy, LLC" on Justia Law

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NYSEG filed suit against FirstEnergy under section 107(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq., to recover certain costs incurred in remediating coal tar contamination at certain of NYSEG's manufactured gas plants in upstate New York. NYSEG contends that FirstEnergy is liable as the successor to NYSEG's former parent company, AGECO, for a portion of the cleanup costs. FirstEnergy filed counterclaims against NYSEG and third-party claims against I.D. Booth, the current owner of one of the sites, for cost contribution under section 113(f). The district court held that NYSEG was entitled to recover certain cleanup costs from FirstEnergy based on a veil piercing theory, but limiting that recovery to certain sites. The district court also found I.D. Booth liable for a portion of the cleanup costs at one site. The court held that NYSEG's CERCLA claims against FirstEnergy are not barred by the covenant not to sue; AGECO is not directly liable under CERCLA as an operator; FirstEnergy is liable to NYSEG on a veil piercing theory based on AGECO's control of NYSEG from 1922 to January 10, 1940, but not for contamination created by other AGECO subsidiaries before those subsidiaries merged into NYSEG; NYSEG's claims as to the (a) Plattsburgh site are timely, (b) Norwich site are untimely, and (c) Oswego site are untimely; the district court did not err in calculating total gas production at the sites; the district court did not abuse its discretion in reducing NYSEG's recovery from FirstEnergy by a portion of NYSEG's $20 million insurance settlement; the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to reduce NYSEG's recovery to reflect the increased value of the remediated properties or NYSEG's alleged delay in the remedial efforts; and I.D. Booth is liable for a portion of cleanup costs and the district court did not abuse its discretion in apportioning liability in this respect. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "New York State Elec. & Gas v. FirstEnergy Corp." on Justia Law

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Entergy filed suit against Vermont seeking a declaratory judgment that Vermont's Electrical Energy Generating Tax was unconstitutional. On appeal, Entergy challenged the district court's grant of Vermont's motion to dismiss based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. At issue was whether the Tax Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. 1341, denied the federal courts jurisdiction to review Entergy's challenges to the Generating Tax. The Act prohibits federal courts from interfering with state taxation schemes so long as the state courts offer an adequate forum to litigate the validity of the tax. The court concluded that the Act applied to the Generating Tax and that Vermont provided a plain, speedy, and efficient mechanism for raising Entergy's objections to the validity of the tax. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Entergy Nuclear v. Shumlin" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that Amaranth, a hedge fund, had manipulated the price of natural gas futures in violation of the Commodities Exchange Act (CEA), 7 U.S.C. 1 et seq. Plaintiffs also alleged that J.P. Morgan had aided and abetted Amaranth's manipulation of natural gas futures through J.P. Futures' services as Amaranth's futures commission merchant and clearing broker. On appeal, plaintiffs contend that the district court did not apply the correct standard in evaluating the sufficiency of their amended complaint and likewise failed to recognize the amended complaint's well-pleaded allegations that J.P. Futures aided and abetted Amaranth's manipulation within the meaning of Section 22 of the CEA, 7 U.S.C. 25(a). The court concluded that the district court did not err in concluding that plaintiffs' amended complaint failed to state a claim against J.P. Futures. Because the court concluded that this was so even under the pleading standards that plaintiffs argued should apply, the court did not decide whether the district court's application of a more stringent standard was error. View "In re Amaranth Nat. Gas Commodities Litig." on Justia Law