When the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Sackett v. EPA that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wetland compliance orders were appealable, one question was how far would other courts extend the Supreme Court’s reasoning? Two years later, the answer is becoming clear on at least one front: courts continue to hold that wetland jurisdictional determinations are not appealable. In Belle Company v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Fifth Circuit was the latest court to say so. (more…)
WE KNOW ENERGY®
Manuel Vera and Andrew Farris
On Monday, August 11, 2014, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto signed a package of energy secondary laws passed by the Mexican Congress (the “Legislation”) that will overhaul the Mexican oil and natural gas, petrochemical, and power generation industries. The Legislation includes nine new laws and amendments to several current laws.
The cornerstones of the Mexican oil and gas reforms are the Hydrocarbons Law (Ley de Hidrocarburos) and the Hydrocarbons Revenue Tax Law (Ley de Ingresos Sobre Hidrocarburos). These new statutes regulate, among other items: (i) “entitlements” (asignaciones) granted to state-owned entities, such as Pemex; (ii) the types of exploration and production contracts that will be granted to Mexican and foreign operators as well as joint ventures between certain state-owned companies such as Pemex and private parties; (ii) the rules for the granting of such contracts and execution by the National Hydrocarbons Commission (Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos or “CNH”) through a public bid process; and (iv) the regulations for midstream and downstream activities, which will be overseen by the Ministry of Energy (Secretaría de Energía or “SENER”) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (Comisión Reguladora de Energía or “CRE”). (more…)
In towns across America, hydraulic fracturing continues to be a hot-button issue, with municipalities in at least twelve states adopting measures to ban hydraulic fracturing altogether on a temporary or permanent basis. Recent developments in Texas, California, and Colorado demonstrate that battles continue over local bans on hydraulic fracturing. (more…)
Robert E. Pease and Caitlin Tweed
On July 7, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a stipulation and consent agreement between FERC’s Office of Enforcement, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and Arizona Public Service Company (APS) resolving FERC and NERC’s joint investigation into APS’s involvement in the September 8, 2011 Southwest Blackout. The Southwest Blackout was a system disturbance in the Pacific Southwest that affected transmission in Arizona, California and Mexico, and ultimately caused a complete blackout of San Diego. FERC and NERC found that APS violated certain of the Transmission Operations (TOP) group of NERC Reliability Standards, and that these violations resulted in cascading outages in which 2.7 million customers, or approximately 5 million people, lost power for several hours. FERC and NERC concluded that APS failed to prepare for this type of event by not performing a unique day-ahead study for September 8 and by not coordinating its day-ahead studies with neighboring transmission operators, including the Imperial Irrigation District and the California Independent System Operator. APS has neither admitted nor denied the violations in the stipulation and consent agreement. (more…)
On June 30, 2014, the New York State Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, held that municipalities can effectively “zone out” oil and gas operations by passing zoning ordinances that ban oil and gas production activities, including hydraulic fracturing, within municipal boundaries. The court rejected claims that the state’s Oil Gas and Solution Mining Law (OGSML) preempts efforts on behalf of local authorities to ban hydraulic fracturing operations.
In 2011, the Town of Dryden, New York banned hydraulic fracturing by passing a zoning ordinance that prohibited “all activities related to the exploration for, and the production or storage of, natural gas and petroleum.” Norse Energy challenged the ordinance, arguing that the Town of Dryden lacked authority to prohibit natural gas exploration and extraction activities because the OGSML preempts local zoning laws that curtail energy production. The lower court concluded there was no evidence of express or implied preemption in the OGSML. (more…)
Bracewell & Giuliani
Category: Air Quality/Climate Change, Courts, Crude and Products, DOE, Electric, Enforcement, Environmental, Litigation, Midstream, National Energy Law, Natural Gas/LNG, Offshore, Power, Regional Energy Law, Renewable Energy/Cleantech, Shale Development, Transmission, Upstream Energy