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The Illinois Commerce Commission granted a certificate of public convenience and necessity to Rock Island for construction of a high voltage electric transmission line between O’Brien County, Iowa, and a converter station adjacent to Commonwealth Edison Company’s Grundy County, Illinois substation. Rock Island is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wind Line, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Clean Line, which is owned in part by Grid America, a subsidiary of National Grid, which owns and operates more than 8600 miles of high-voltage transmission facilities. Rock Island has never constructed a high voltage transmission line and does not yet own, control, operate, or manage any plants, equipment, or property used or to be used in the transmission of electricity or for any other purpose related to utilities; it has an option to purchase real property in Grundy County. The appellate court reversed, holding that the Commission had no authority under the Public Utilities Act, 220 ILCS 5/1-101, to consider Rock Island’s application because the company did not qualify as a public utility under Illinois law. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Whatever Rock Island’s motives for seeking a certificate of public necessity and convenience, it does not qualify as a public utility; eligibility for a certificate of public convenience and necessity unambiguously requires present ownership, management, or control of defined utility property or equipment. View "Illinois Landowners Alliance, NFP v. Illinois Commerce Commission" on Justia Law

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Jeffrey Ware, Ph.D., was a University of Pennsylvania neuroscientist, studying the effects of radiation on biological organisms with the goal of better understanding how radiation affects astronauts while in orbit. Ware used cesium-137 irradiators to track the effects of low-level radiation on mice and rats. In 2010, Ware suffered a rare form of brain cancer, gliosarcoma. His widow, Boyer, claims gliosarcoma is associated with radiation exposure but produced no expert reports and that Ware’s cancer specifically resulted from radiation exposure that UPenn failed to properly monitor, protect against or warn of. Ware underwent chemotherapy and radiation at the University’s hospital. Boyer alleges that Ware was not given appropriate information about these treatments; that, given the advanced stage of his disease, they provided little benefit; and that a UPenn doctor enrolled Ware in a research study to investigate the effects of chemotherapy and radiation on brain cancer patients without his knowing consent. The Third Circuit affirmed the application of the Price-Anderson Act, 42 U.S.C. 2011, and its remedy-limiting provisions to Boyer's suit. The Act gives federal courts jurisdiction to resolve a broad set of claims involving liability for physical harm arising from nuclear radiation. Boyer’s case is within the Act’s reach. View "Estate of Ware v. Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the Board of Equalization’s decision affirming the ruling of the Wyoming Department of Revenue against PacifiCorp, Inc., which sought a ruling that its purchases of certain chemicals used in the process of generating electricity in coal-fired electrical generation facilities in Wyoming qualified for either the manufacturers’ sales tax exemption or the wholesalers’ sales tax exemption. The court held (1) The Board erred when it concluded that PacifiCorp is not a manufacturer under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 39-15-105(a)(iii)A); (2) the Board did not err when it held that certain chemicals necessary to treat water and sulfur dioxide emissions during the coal combustion processes that generate electricity are not “used directly” to generate electricity and are therefore not exempt from sales tax under section 39-15-105(a)(iii)(A); and (3) the Board did not err when it held that PacifiCorp’s purchases of certain chemicals and catalysts do not constitute wholesale purchases exempt from taxation under section 39-15-105(a)(iii)(F). View "PacifiCorp, Inc. v. Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs assert that they developed cancer after being exposed to excessive radiation emissions from the Nuclear Material and Equipment Company’s Apollo, Pennsylvania facility. The district court held that their common-law claims against were preempted by the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act and rejected their Price-Anderson “public liability” claims on summary judgment. The Third Circuit affirmed. Although the Act preempted common-law negligence claims, the public liability claims require Plaintiffs to prove versions of the traditional negligence elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. With respect to duty, the court noted the restrictions on access to the facility; Plaintiffs did not establish the existence of excessive radiation outside the restricted area. The facility’s license did not establish a tort duty. Even with state-of-the-art data, it is impossible to determine with certainty that radiation is the cause of a given incidence of cancer. Plaintiffs failed to offer evidence from which a jury could find that each plaintiff was exposed to radiation from Defendants’ uranium effluent sufficiently frequently, regularly, and proximately to substantially cause their illnesses. View "McMunn v. Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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This case arose from competing claims to a portion of the Yuba Goldfields, a 10,000-acre valley on both sides of the Yuba River near Marysville. At issue was whether an arbitration award resolving a dispute between plaintiff Cal Sierra Development, Inc. (Cal Sierra), and Western Aggregates, Inc., served as res judicata to bar Cal Sierra’s lawsuit against Western Aggregates’ licensee George Reed, Inc., and the licensee’s parent Basic Resources, Inc. The Court of Appeal concluded yes. View "Cal Sierra Development v. George Reed, Inc." on Justia Law

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Sierra Club challenged the Commission's decision approving the construction and operation of three new interstate natural-gas pipelines in the southeastern United States. Determining that it has jurisdiction to entertain Sierra Club's claims, the DC Circuit held that the Commission's environmental impact statement did not contain enough information on the greenhouse-gas emissions that will result from burning the gas that the pipelines will carry. However, the Commission acted properly in all other respects. Accordingly, the court granted Sierra Club's petition for review and remanded for preparation of a conforming environmental impact statement. View "Sierra Club v. FERC" on Justia Law

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In an amendment to the Clean Air Act (CAA), Congress directed the EPA to operate a Renewable Fuel Standards Program (the RFS Program) to increase oil refineries’ use of renewable fuels. But for small refineries that would suffer a “disproportionate economic hardship” in complying with the RFS Program, the statute required the EPA to grant exemptions on a case-by-case basis. Petitioner Sinclair Wyoming Refining Company owned and operated two refineries in Wyoming: one in Sinclair, and another in Casper. Both fell within the RFS Program’s definition of “small refinery” and were exempt from the RFS requirements until 2011. Those exemptions were extended until 2013 after the Department of Energy found Sinclair’s Wyoming refineries to be among the 13 of 59 small refineries that would continue to face “disproportionate economic hardship” if required to comply with the RFS Program. Sinclair then petitioned the EPA to extend their small-refinery exemptions. The EPA denied Sinclair’s petitions in two separate decisions, finding that both refineries appeared to be profitable enough to pay the cost of the RFS Program. Sinclair filed a timely petition for review with the Tenth Circuit court, which concluded the EPA exceeded its statutory authority under the CAA in interpreting the hardship exemption to require a threat to a refinery’s survival as an ongoing operation. Because the Court found the EPA exceeded its statutory authority, it vacated the EPA’s decisions and remanded to the EPA for further proceedings. View "Sinclair Wyoming Refining v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Sierra Club challenged the Department's grant of an application to export liquified natural gas (LNG) using terminals and liquefaction facilities (Freeport Terminal) on Quintana Island. On the merits, the DC Circuit held that the Department did not fail to fulfill its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by declining to make specific projections about environmental impacts stemming from specific levels of export-induced gas production; the Department did not fail to fulfill its obligations with respect to the potential for the U.S. electric power sector to switch from gas to coal in response to higher gas prices; the court rejected Sierra Club's challenges to the Department's examination of the potential greenhouse-gas emissions resulting from the indirect effects of exports; and Sierra Club has given the court no reason to question the Department's judgment that the FLEX application was not inconsistent with the public interest. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Sierra Club v. DOE" on Justia Law

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ExxonMobil’s 859-mile long Pegasus Pipeline transports crude oil from Patoka, Illinois to Nederland, Texas. In March 2013, it ruptured, spilling several thousand barrels of oil near Mayflower, Arkansas. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, within the U.S. Department of Transportation, conducted an investigation and concluded that ExxonMobil violated several pipeline safety regulations under the Pipeline Safety Act, 49 U.S.C. 60101. Specifically, the agency found that the integrity management program (IMP) plan had not properly accounted for the risk of longitudinal seam failure and that this was a contributing factor in the Mayflower release. The agency assessed a $2.6 million civil penalty and ordered ExxonMobil to take certain actions to ensure compliance with those regulations. The Fifth Circuit vacated certain items in the order. Finding that it owed no deference to the agency’s interpretation of the regulation, the court concluded that ExxonMobil reasonably applied 49 CFR 195.452(e)(1)’s instruction to “consider” all relevant risk factors in making its pipeline susceptibility determination. The court remanded with an instruction to reevaluate the basis for the penalty associated with another violation. View "ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. v. United States Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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This case involves the allocation of production costs among the Entergy Operation Companies. LPSC petitioned for review of FERC's implementation of its decision to delay the effective date of the Bandwidth Remedy. The DC Circuit denied LPSC's petition with respect to FERC's advancement of the effective date to the 2005 period, and denied its petition as to the application of the Bandwidth Remedy to the 2005 period. The court granted FERC's request to remand to FERC for further consideration of the denial of Section 206 refunds for the September 2001-May 2003 effective period. View "Louisiana Public Service Commission v. FERC" on Justia Law