FERC and CFTC Annual Enforcement Update

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) recently released their annual reports on enforcement activities for fiscal year 2016 (October 2015 through September 2016). In addition, FERC enforcement staff released two white papers regarding the bounds of FERC’s prohibition on market manipulation and the features of an effective compliance program: (1) FERC Staff White Paper on Anti-Market Manipulation Enforcement Efforts Ten Years after EPAct 2005 (the “Anti-Manipulation White Paper”); and (2) FERC Staff White Paper on Effective...

Adverse Possession in the Oil Patch

The most basic example of adverse possession is when a landowner fences in land that belongs to a neighbor. This is trespassing, but if a long enough period of time passes without the neighbor bringing a trespass claim, the trespasser can acquire title by adverse possession. Texas law complicates things a bit by having four separate adverse possession statutes – depending on various factors, the time period is 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, or 25 years. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 16.024-16.028. In the oil and gas industry, adverse possession can be even trickier. A property owner can have...

Bracewell Environmental Law Seminar – Fall 2016: Highlights on Strategic Permitting

On November 15, 2016, Bracewell’s Environmental Strategies Group hosted its third biannual Environmental Law Seminar in Houston. The seminar was attended by nearly 100 industry representatives and featured five guest speakers, including Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, CSB Board Member Rick Engler, Center for Global Energy Policy Fellow Ronald Minsk, Windward Strategies President and CEO Eric Washburn, and Spirit Environmental Program Manager Johnny Vermillion. This is the first in a series of posts highlighting learnings from the seminar. Strategic Permitting: From Project Planning to First...

U.S. Futures Exchanges Disciplinary Actions Report - October 2016

NYMEX NYMEX 13-9490-BC-1 COMEX 13-9490-BC-1 Disruptive Trading Violation of Rule 432– General Offenses (in part); Rule 433 – Strict Liability for the Acts of Agents. Between March and July 2013, two traders, acting on behalf of a member firm, engaged in patterned activity in which they entered into “larger-sized” orders and then cancelled them seconds after the execution of smaller orders on the opposite side of the book in order to encourage other market participants to trade with the smaller-sized orders. Pursuant to a settlement offer, the member firm neither admitted nor denied the...

FERC to Re-Examine Its Policy on the Length of Hydroelectric License Terms

On November 17, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) to re-examine its policy on the length of hydroelectric license terms under the Federal Power Act. The Commission’s NOI is a tacit admission that the existing policy has not been working successfully – at least as measured against the present Commission’s policy goals. Section 15(e) of the Federal Power Act provides that a license term for any new license, i.e. , a relicense, shall be not less than 30 or more than 50 years. Under existing policy for hydroelectric projects, the...

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