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LPSC petitioned for review of FERC's rejection of LPSC's request to reform certain depreciation rates. The DC Circuit denied the petition for review and rejected LPSC's claim that FERC failed to confront its asserted evidence of undue discrimination where FERC fulfilled such obligations; FERC precedent did not require the use of FERC's own depreciation standards; and there has been no unlawful subdelegation because FERC has exercised, and intends to continue to exercise, its authority. View "Louisiana Public Service Commission v. FERC" on Justia Law

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MISO, a nonprofit association of utilities, manages electrical transmission facilities for its members. Beginning in 2006, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved changes to MISO’s Tariff that enabled it to authorize network expansion projects and divide the costs among the member utilities. Duke and American own Ohio and Kentucky utilities. In July 2009, American gave notice that it planned to withdraw from MISO. Duke followed suit in May 2010. Under the Tariff, a utility cannot withdraw from MISO any earlier than the last day of the year following the year it gives notice. Two months after Duke announced its intention to withdraw, MISO proposed a new category of more expensive expansion projects. FERC approved this revision to the Tariff. In August 2010, MISO authorized the first Multi-Value Project. In December 2011, weeks before Duke’s scheduled departure, MISO approved 16 projects, to cost billions of dollars. MISO proposed amending the Tariff, so that ex-members could be charged for the costs of Multi-Value Projects approved before their departure. FERC approved that revision prospectively, holding that the revision imposed new obligations on withdrawing members and could not apply to Duke and American to charge them for the Multi-Value Projects. Other MISO Transmission Owners appealed, claiming that FERC departed from the reasoning of its prior orders. The Sixth Circuit denied a petition for review, stating that there is no presumption that costs for the Multi-Value Projects should be allocated up front. View "MISO Transmission Owners v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the Commissions' approval of revisions to the rules governing the buying and selling of "capacity" for markets operated by PJM. The DC Circuit held that the Commission balanced the benefits of the revised rules against the increased costs and reached a reasoned judgment. Therefore, the Commission's decision was not arbitrary nor capricious. The court deferred to the Commission's interpretation of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 824e, because its interpretation of the Act's requirements was reasonable; deferred to the Commission's balancing of competing concerns in setting a penalty rate; and rejected challenges to the default offer cap, the year-round capacity commitment, orders approving PJM's demand resource rules, and imposition of Capacity Performance penalties on resources that fail to perform due to unit-specific constraints. Accordingly, the court denied the petitions for review. View "Advanced Energy Management Alliance v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Statoil Oil & Gas LP appealed judgments dismissing without prejudice its actions against numerous defendants, seeking a determination of the proper distribution of oil and gas revenues from Williams and McKenzie County wells on land adjacent to the Missouri River and under Lake Sakakawea. It was undisputed that the United States claimed an interest in the property and, although the United States waived sovereign immunity regarding real property title disputes, those actions against the United States had to be brought and resolved in a federal court. The parties therefore agreed that joinder of the United States was not feasible for purposes of N.D.R.Civ.P. 19(a). The provisions of N.D.R.Civ.P. 19(b) come into play:"(b) When Joinder Is Not Feasible. If a person who is required to be joined if feasible cannot be joined, the court must determine whether, in equity and good conscience, the action should proceed among the existing parties or should be dismissed. Considering N.D.R.Civ.P. 19(b)(1), the district court noted the United States would be prejudiced to some extent by its absence in the proceedings because, although it would not be bound by a state court judgment, a judgment in favor of other mineral owners would cloud its record title to the disputed property. This could force the United States to institute a proceeding to protect its interests in the property, resulting in a waste of judicial and party resources. The trial court concluded there was a risk of substantial prejudice to the United States (including both its mineral interests and its sovereignty) if this matter proceeded in its absence, and therefore the first factor favors dismissal. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the actions because Statoil failed to join the United States as an indispensable party. View "Statoil Oil & Gas, LP v. Abaco Energy, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Colorado Supreme Court concluded that the statutory scheme property taxation of oil and gas leaseholds authorized the retroactive tax assessment in this case. Petitioner Kinder Morgan CO2 Company, L.P., operated oil and gas leaseholds in Montezuma County, Colorado. In 2009, the assessor for Montezuma County issued a corrective tax assessment on these leaseholds for the previous tax year, retroactively assessing over $2 million in property taxes, after an auditor concluded that Kinder Morgan underreported the value of gas produced at the leaseholds. Kinder Morgan appealed, arguing the assessor lacked authority to retroactively assess these taxes because Colorado law did not authorize a retroactive assessment when an operator has correctly reported the volume of oil and gas sold but has underreported the selling price at the wellhead. In affirming the court of appeals in this matter, the Supreme Court further concluded that the Board of Assessment Appeals did not err in determining that Kinder Morgan underreported the selling price by claiming excess transportation deductions, given Kinder Morgan’s relationship to the owner of the pipeline through which the gas was transported. View "Kinder Morgan CO2 Co., L.P. v. Montezuma Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs" on Justia Law

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The Oil Pollution Act (OPA), as confirmed by the Act's legislative history, grants to an OPA Responsible Party the right to receive contribution from other entities who were partially at fault for a discharge of oil. Specifically, a Responsible Party may recover from a jointly liable third party any damages it paid to claimants, including those arising out of purely economic losses. In a suit arising from a collision of two barges, the district court found both Settoon and Marquette Transportation were negligent. The Fifth Circuit held that Settoon could receive contribution from Marquette for its payment of purely economic damages, i.e., for the cleanup costs. The court also held that the district court's apportionment of fault was not clearly erroneous. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "In re: Settoon Towing, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Water District appealed from the district court's judgment in a consolidated multidistrict litigation granting summary judgment to BP and Shell on the ground that the Water District's suit was barred by res judicata arising from 2002 and 2005 settlements. Claims against BP and Shell for MTBE contamination had been brought by the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) in 1999 and were settled in 2002 and 2005 respectively. The Second Circuit vacated and remanded the Water District's claims against BP and Shell, holding that the Water District and OCDA were not in privity. View "In re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBA) Products Liability Litigation" on Justia Law

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Total Gas and two of its trading managers filed a declaratory judgment action against the Commission arguing that the Commission was precluded from adjudicating violations or imposing civil penalties because the Natural Gas Act (NGA) vests authority for those activities exclusively in federal district courts. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the Commission's motion to dismiss, holding that Total's suit was not ripe for review in light of controlling precedent, Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. v. FERC. In this case, instead of objecting to any actions FERC has already taken, Total seeks to preemptively challenge a FERC order that may never be issued. The court explained that all of Total's arguments were predicated on future events and were brought before FERC has even scheduled the matter for a hearing—let alone issued an order finding a NGA violation and imposing a civil penalty. View "TOTAL Gas & Power North America, Inc. v. FERC" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the meaning of the term “motor fuel taxes” as used in the Georgia Constitution, Article III, Sec. IX, Par. IV(b). A trucking industry association and three individual motor carriers challenged local sales and use taxes on motor fuels, the revenues of which were not used solely for public roads and bridges. They argued that these taxes fell within the meaning of “motor fuel taxes” under the Motor Fuel Provision and, therefore, the revenues from these taxes (or an amount equal to that revenue) had to be allocated to the maintenance and construction of public roads and bridges. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ complaint because the history and context of the Motor Fuel Provision revealed that “motor fuel taxes” were limited to per-gallon taxes on distributors of motor fuel, and did not include sales and use taxes imposed on retail sales of motor fuels. View "Georgia Motor Trucking Assn. v. Georgia Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law

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At issue was a lessor’s right to terminate an oil and gas lease when a lessee fails to make minimum annual rental or royalty payments. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the lessors in this case and ordered forfeiture of the lease at issue, declaring that the lease had terminated under its own terms because the lessees had failed to a minimum annual rental of $5,500 under the lease and that the lease was void as against public policy. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the provision in the lease requiring the lessee to pay $5,500 annually did not invoke the termination provision in the unrelated delay-rental clause; and (2) the lease did not qualify as a no-term, perpetual lease, and therefore, the lease was not void as against public policy. View "Bohlen v. Anadarko E&P Onshore, LLC" on Justia Law