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Powered by the attorneys of Bracewell & Giuliani, Energy Legal Blog® is your resource for updates and analysis on national and global energy issues.
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  1. A permit system may finally arrive for the Migratory Bird Treaty Act – New Opportunities and Responsibilities

    Wednesday, May 27, 2015 5:06 pm by

    For years, Federal Courts have held that individuals can be held criminally liable under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) for the death of birds regardless of whether they intended to harm them. While several courts have recently called into question this precedent, yesterday, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) started a process that could help clarify liability under the Act. However, with this clarity will come additional regulatory obligations and the creation of a bright line between compliance and noncompliance.

    Like the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the MBTA imposes criminal liability for harming specifically-identified birds. Unlike the ESA, however, the MBTA does not currently have an extensive permitting system. As a result, most companies are unable to proactively ensure compliance with the MBTA unless they can avoid harming any migratory birds during their operations – and complete avoidance is extremely difficult when engaging in many industrial activities of any scale. Thus, entities operating wind energy, communication towers, oil and gas production, and electrical transmission facilities, for example, have generally adopted best management practices and hoped that their proactive efforts would result in lenient treatment by FWS if and when their operations accidentally harm migratory birds. (more…)


  2. Federal District Court Denies Barclays Motion to Dismiss FERC Petition Which Alleges Manipulation and Assesses Significant Penalties

    Thursday, May 21, 2015 2:02 pm by , , and

    For the past two years we have been tracking and reporting on an enforcement proceeding brought by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) against Barclays Bank PLC (“Barclays”), Daniel Brin, Scott Connelly, Karen Levine, and Ryan Smith (collectively, the “Traders” and together with Barclays, “Defendants”) for alleged manipulative trading in the western electricity markets from November 2006 to December 2008. Yesterday, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California denied a motion by the Defendants to dismiss the manipulation action. Although the court’s order did not address the merits of the manipulation charge, the court’s order is significant because it is the first judicial ruling on the scope of FERC’s enforcement authority over the physical electricity markets and the court found that FERC can pursue civil penalty actions against individuals as well as companies. (more…)


  3. Mexico’s National Hydrocarbons Commission Issues Round One’s Third Bid For Onshore Fields

    Thursday, May 14, 2015 4:36 pm by , and

    Mexico’s National Hydrocarbon Commission (Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos) (“CNH”) announced on May 11 the terms for the third bid of Round One. Unlike the two earlier bids which covered 19 shallow water areas, the third bid covers 26 onshore areas that contain approximately 2.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) most of them with 3P reserves. (more…)


  4. Egypt: floating regasification to solve gas shortages

    Wednesday, May 13, 2015 8:20 am by

    Facing shortages in its domestic gas supplies, the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), Egypt’s state-owned gas company, has opted to install floating regasification facilities in the Ain Sokhna port and received its first LNG cargo in April 2015. This article considers why floating regasification offered an effective solution to the supply challenges faced in Egypt, as well as exploring some of the wider reasoning that lies behind the recent surge in global use of such facilities. (more…)


  5. Commercial UAS Modernization Act Introduced to Streamline Drone Integration

    Tuesday, May 12, 2015 5:16 pm by

    Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Hoeven (R-ND) recently introduced the Commercial UAS Modernization Act, legislation designed to streamline the integration of commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the United States. The legislation would establish an interim rule governing small UAS operations, provide the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with some flexibility on issues like visual-line-of-sight (VLOS) operations, reduce the regulatory burden for commercial operators, create a new deputy administrator position at the FAA focused on UAS, and encourage maximum use of current FAA UAS test sites. (more…)


  6. FERC Assesses $5 Million Penalty Against Maxim Power for Alleged Manipulation of ISO-NE Market and for Misleading the Independent Market Monitor

    Tuesday, May 5, 2015 8:18 am by

    On May 1, 2015 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) assessed a $5 million civil penalty against Maxim Power Corporation (Maxim) and its affiliates and an additional $50,000 civil penalty against Kyle Mitton, an energy marketing analyst working for Maxim, for allegedly violating FERC’s anti-manipulation rule and a regulation against submitting false or misleading information to a market monitor. Specifically, FERC alleges that Maxim bid in its Pittsfield generating plant in the ISO-NE day ahead market on oil during certain hot summer days in 2010 when it actually ran on much cheaper natural gas. According to FERC, Maxim hoped to be paid the significantly higher oil price even though it actually ran on cheaper natural gas. FERC maintains that Maxim mislead the ISO-NE Independent Market Monitor (IMM) when its bidding was questioned, giving the IMM the impression that Maxim actually ran on oil. This misrepresentation, according to FERC, also constituted a fraud in violation of FERC’s anti-manipulation rule. Maxim, on the other hand, argued in response to FERC’s earlier Order to Show Cause that due to pipeline restrictions serving the Pittsfield plant, it bid conservatively to avoid running on a fuel costing more than it bid into the market. Maxim further states that it never provided false information to the IMM. FERC admits that Maxim did not make a false statement and that it eventually did disclose to the IMM that it ran on natural gas. In the end, Maxim was not paid the more expensive price for oil; instead the IMM mitigated the price Maxim was paid to run the Pittsfield plant, a mitigation $3 million. (more…)


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