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A district court may, in appropriate circumstances, issue a preliminary injunction granting a pipeline company immediate access to property that it has an established right to condemn under the Natural Gas Act. Transcontinental filed consolidated condemnation proceedings against property owners in order to obtain an easement for the construction of a natural gas pipeline. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Transcontinental on the issue of whether it had a right to condemn certain portions of defendants' properties under Section 7(h) of the Natural Gas Act. The court held that the district court did not err in concluding that there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether Transcontinental held a valid certificate of public convenience and necessity; the property to be condemned was necessary for the natural-gas pipeline authorized by the certificate; and Transcontinental could not acquire the necessary easements by contract. The court also affirmed the district court's issuance of a preliminary injunction allowing Transcontinental to immediately enter defendants' properties and begin construction. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in requiring Transcontinental to post a surety bond rather than a cash deposit. View "Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co., LLC v. Cochran" on Justia Law

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In this contract dispute over an offset provision in an oil and gas lease the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the trial court’s judgment in the lessee’s favor, holding that the court of appeals read a requirement into the lease that its unambiguous language did not support. In reversing, the court of appeals concluded that the lessee did not conclusively prove that it complied with the offset provision. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ judgment and reinstated the trial court’s judgment s modified to remove the award of appellate attorney’s fees, holding (1) the offset provision contained specific requirements, and the lessee met those requirements; and (2) the court of appeals’ reading of the offset provision to contain a proximity requirement constituted a significant deviation from the language the parties chose. View "Murphy Exploration & Production Co. v. Adams" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Public Utilities Commission that approved a charge referred to as the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) Rider as a component of Ohio Power Company’s third electric-security plan (ESP), holding that the order was not unlawful or unreasonable. Specifically, the Court held (1) the PPA Rider did not recover unlawful transition revenue; (2) the challenges to the Commission’s approval of the PPA Rider under the ESP statute, Ohio Rev. Code 4928.143, were without merit; (3) the challenges to the Commission’s approval of the joint stipulation to resolve the issues in the PPA Rider case failed; and (4) the Commission complied with Ohio Rev. Code 4903.09 when it approved the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation-only PPA Rider. View "In re Application of Ohio Power Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal brought by the Office of Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association Energy Group (OMAEG) challenging the Public Utility Commission’s decision to approve the third electric-security plan (ESP) of Ohio Power Company, holding that OCC and OMAEG failed to demonstrate prejudice or harm caused by the ESP order. On appeal, OCC and OMAEG argued that the Commission’s approval of the Power Purchase Agreement Ride as a component of the ESP was reversible error. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding (1) OCC failed to demonstrate that ratepayers suffered actual harm or prejudice from the ESP order; and (2) this Court declines to address the claims that ratepayers were at risk of imminent or future harm rising from the ESP order. View "In re Application of Ohio Power Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ judgment that the statute of limitations barred a claim for breach of a recorded right of first refusal to purchase a mineral interest and reinstated the judgment of the trial court rendering judgment for the rightholders, holding that the discovery rule applied to defer accrual. The grantors of the right of first refusal to purchase the mineral interest in this case conveyed the mineral interest to a third party without notifying the rightholders. More than four years later, the holders sued the third party for breach, seeking specific performance. The trial court rendered judgment for the holders. The court of appeals reversed, holding (1) the rightholders’ cause of action accrued when the grantors conveyed the property without notice, and (2) the discovery rule did not apply to defer accrual. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a grantor’s conveyance of property in breach of a right of first refusal, where the rightholder has no notice of the grantor’s intent to sell, is inherently undiscoverable and that the discovery rule applies to defer accrual of the holder’s cause of action until he knew or should have known of the injury. View "Carl M. Archer Trust No. Three v. Tregellas" on Justia Law

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Sunoco blends ethanol with gasoline to create alcohol fuel mixtures. Sunoco filed consolidated tax returns, 2004-2009, claiming the Mixture Credit under 26 U.S.C. 6426 as a credit against its gasoline excise tax liability for the years 2005-2008. In 2013, Sunoco changed its tax position by submitting both informal and formal claims with the IRS to recover over $300 million based on excise-tax expenses for the years 2005-2008, claiming that it erroneously reduced its gasoline excise tax by the amount of Mixture Credit it received, which had the effect of including the Mixture Credit in its gross income. In its view, Sunoco was entitled to deduct the full amount of the gasoline excise tax under section 4081— without regard to the Mixture Credit—and keep the Mixture Credit as tax-free income. In 2015, the IRS issued a statutory notice of disallowance denying Sunoco’s claims. Sunoco filed a refund suit. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Claims Court in upholding the disallowance. The alcohol fuel mixture credit must first be applied to reduce a taxpayer’s gasoline excise-tax liability, with any remaining credit amount treated as a tax-free payment. View "Sunoco, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Natural Gas Act (NGA), 15 U.S.C. 717f(h) gives natural gas companies that hold certificates of public convenience and necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the power of eminent domain but does not provide for “quick take” to permit immediate possession. Transcontinental is building a natural gas pipeline through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and needed rights of way. Transcontinental met the requirements of section 717f(h). The administrative review leading up to the certificate of public convenience and necessity lasted almost three years and included extensive outreach and public participation and an Environmental Impact Statement. Transcontinental extended written offers of compensation exceeding $3000 to each Landowner, but these offers were not accepted. The Landowners had all participated in the FERC administrative process. Transcontinental, planning to begin construction in fall 2017, filed condemnation suits The district court granted Transcontinental summary judgment, effectively giving it immediate possession, concluding that the Landowners had received “adequate due process.” The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that granting immediate possession violated the separation of powers because eminent domain is a legislative power and the NGA did not grant “quick take.” Transcontinental properly obtained the substantive right to the property by following the statutory requirements, which are not similar to “quick take” procedures, before seeking equitable relief to obtain possession. View "Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co., LLC v. Permanent Easements for 2.14 Acres" on Justia Law

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The district court awarded summary judgment to the state and entered an injunction that required DOE to remove not less than one metric ton of defense plutonium from the State within two years. The Fourth Circuit held that the district court properly enforced the statutory responsibilities imposed on the DOE by Congress and that it also appropriately crafted and entered the injunction. The court rejected the DOE's contention that the principles governing mandamus proceedings, as well as fundamental principles of injunctive relief, control the award of an injunction under the Administrative Procedure Act. The court held that the district court, in carefully crafting the injunction, gave full consideration to the positions of the parties and the record. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion or improperly burdened the DOE by imposing 50 U.S.C. 2566(c)'s two-year removal time frame. View "South Carolina v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of 104 plaintiffs' claims related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Plaintiffs, individuals and associations located in Mexico that rely on the fishing industry as a primary source of income, argued that the district court abused its discretion in making dismissal with prejudice the remedy for failing to comply with pretrial order (PTO) 60. The court held that plaintiffs' failure to comply with PTO 60 constituted a clear record of delay considering the number of opportunities the district court gave plaintiffs to either comply with PTO 60, explain why they could not do so, or show documentation of their attorneys' efforts. The court also held that the district court's explicit warnings and second chances illustrated that lesser sanctions would not serve the best interests of justice. View "Barrera v. BP, PLC" on Justia Law

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Applicant LK Holdings, LLC appealed the Public Utility Commission’s dismissal of its application for a certificate of public good for a proposed group net-metered photovoltaic electric power system. The Commission dismissed the petition as incomplete because applicant failed to provide notice to adjoining landowners that its application had been filed. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "In re Petition of LK Holdings, LLC" on Justia Law