Justia Energy, Oil & Gas Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Civil Procedure
Louisiana, et al. v. Louisiana Land & Exploration Co., et al.
Vermilion Parish School Board (“VPSB”) filed suit in 2004, alleging oil and gas operations conducted pursuant to a 1935 mineral lease and a 1994 surface lease damaged Section 16 land. VPSB asserted causes of action for negligence, strict liability, unjust enrichment, trespass, breach of contract, and violations of Louisiana environmental laws. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted rehearing to reconsider its prior decision in Louisiana v. Louisiana Land and Exploration Co., 20-00685 (La. 6/30/21), _So.3d_. The case presented two main issues: (1) the proper interpretation of Act 312 relative to the award of damages for the evaluation or remediation of environmental damage; and (2) whether the strict liability tort claim prescribed. With the benefit of additional oral argument and briefing, the Court affirmed its original decree. View "Louisiana, et al. v. Louisiana Land & Exploration Co., et al." on Justia Law
State of Rhode Island v. Shell Oil Products Co., LLC
In this climate-change case, the First Circuit once more affirmed the order of the federal district court allowing Rhode Island's motion to return to state court its state court complaint against oil and gas companies for damages caused by fossil fuels, holding that Rhode Island's complaint did not give rise to federal removal jurisdiction.Rhode Island originally brought this complaint in state court, alleging state-law causes of action for, inter alia, public nuisance. After the energy companies removed the case to federal district court Rhode Island moved for the case to be remanded to state court. The district court granted the motion and ordered the case remanded to state court. The First Circuit affirmed the remand order. On certiorari, the Supreme Court instructed that the First Circuit give further consideration in light of recent caselaw. The First Circuit received supplemental briefs and then affirmed once more the judge's remand order, holding that removal based on federal-question jurisdiction and on other jurisdictional and removal statutes was not proper. View "State of Rhode Island v. Shell Oil Products Co., LLC" on Justia Law
S Bar Ranch v. Elmore County
S Bar Ranch owned approximately 3000 acres of land in rural Elmore County, Idaho. S Bar purchased the land in 2015. There were very few structures on S Bar’s property, save for an airplane hangar that included a five-hundred square-foot apartment. S Bar’s address was listed in Sun Valley, Idaho, and its principal, Chris Stephens, used the property for recreational purposes. Cat Creek Energy, LLC, an Idaho company managed by John Faulkner, owned and managed more than 23,000 acres of land in Elmore County near Anderson Ranch reservoir. Faulkner, on behalf of his other companies, leased land to Cat Creek to develop the project at issue in this dispute. In late 2014 and early 2015, Cat Creek began the process of obtaining conditional use permits (“CUPs”) for a proposed alternative energy development (“the project”) in Elmore County. As initially proposed, the project had five components: a 50,000 acre-foot reservoir with hydroelectric turbines, up to 39 wind turbines, approximately 174,000 photovoltaic solar panels, electrical transmission lines, and an onsite power substation. Cat Creek sought to build the project on approximately 23,000 acres of land that it had leased near Anderson Ranch Reservoir. In 2019, the district court issued a Memorandum Decision and Order, affirming the Board’s decisions with respect to the CUPs. The district court found that S Bar only had standing to challenge the CUPs relating to wind turbines, electric transmission lines, and the on-site substation. The district court also reiterated its prior oral ruling that a 2017 CUP Order was a final agency action and that S Bar’s petition for judicial review of that order was untimely. With regard to the development agreement and a 2018 CUP Amendment, the district court concluded that the Board did not err in a manner specified by Idaho Code section 67-5279 and that S Bar had not shown that its substantial rights had been prejudiced. S Bar appealed, but finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed judgment in favor of Cat Creek. View "S Bar Ranch v. Elmore County" on Justia Law
Continental Resources v. Wolla Oilfield Services
The United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma certified two questions of law to the Oklahoma Supreme Court relating to the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act, and whether it applied to conduct outside of Oklahoma. The matter concenred a dispute between Continental Resources, Inc. (Continental), an oil and gas producer headquartered in Oklahoma, and Wolla Oilfield Services, LLC (Wolla), a North Dakota limited liability company that operated as a hot oil service provider in North Dakota. Continental alleged the parties entered into an agreement for Wolla to provide hot oil services at an hourly rate to Continental's wells in North Dakota. As part of the contract, Wolla agreed to submit its invoices through an "online billing system" and to bill accurately and comprehensively for work it performed. A whistleblower in Wolla's accounting department notified Continental about systematic overbilling in connection with this arrangement. Continental conducted an audit and concluded Wolla's employees were overbilling it for time worked. Wolla denies these allegations. The Oklahoma Supreme Court concluded: (1) the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act does not apply to a consumer transaction when the offending conduct that triggers the Act occurs solely within the physical boundaries of another state; and (2) the Act also does not apply to conduct where, even if the physical location is difficult to pinpoint, such actions or transactions have a material impact on, or material nexus to, a consumer in the state of Oklahoma. View "Continental Resources v. Wolla Oilfield Services" on Justia Law
OXY USA v. DOI, et al.
OXY USA, Inc. appealed a decision of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue (“ONRR”) ordering it to pay an additional $1,820,652.66 in royalty payments on federal gas leases that were committed to the Bravo Dome Unit (“the Unit”). The owner of the leases OXY subsequently acquired - Amerada Hess Corporation (“Hess”) - used almost all of the CO2 it produced in the Unit for its own purposes rather than sale. ONRR rejected Hess’s valuation method and established its own. Hess appealed, and ONRR’s Director issued a decision reducing the amount Hess owed but affirming the remainder of ONRR’s order. Hess appealed to the Interior Board of Land Appeals, but the Board did not issue a final merits decision prior to the 33-month limitations period. On appeal to the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, the district court rejected OXY’s challenge to the amount of royalties owed and affirmed the Director’s decision. Finding ONRR's interpretation and application of the marketable-condition rule to this case was not plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the applicable regulations, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. View "OXY USA v. DOI, et al." on Justia Law
Energy Transfer, et al. v. ND Private Investigative and Security Bd., et al.
Energy Transfer LP and Dakota Access LLC (collectively, “Energy Transfer”) appealed an order and judgment affirming the North Dakota Private Investigative and Security Board’s (“Board”) order denying Energy Transfer’s petition to intervene in an administrative action against TigerSwan, LLC. Energy Transfer argued the district court erred by concluding it lacked standing to appeal the Board’s decision denying its petition to intervene, and that the Board erred in denying its petition to intervene. TigerSwan contracted with Energy Transfer to provide services related to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Board commenced administrative proceedings against TigerSwan alleging it provided investigative and security services in North Dakota without a license. TigerSwan was compelled to disclose documents to the Board, some of which were the focus of this appeal. Energy Transfer filed a motion to intervene for the purpose of compelling the return of the documents and to obtain a protective order. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the court order concluding Energy Transfer lacked standing to appeal the Board’s order, and reversed the Board’s order denying intervention. The matter was remanded to the Board for further proceedings. View "Energy Transfer, et al. v. ND Private Investigative and Security Bd., et al." on Justia Law
Energy Transfer, et al. v. ND Private Investigative and Security Bd., et al.
Energy Transfer LP and Dakota Access LLC (collectively, “Energy Transfer”) appealed an order for partial summary judgment certified as final by a district court. The court held documents the North Dakota Private Investigative and Security Board received in response to discovery requests in an administrative proceeding against TigerSwan, LLC fell within the N.D.C.C. ch. 44-04 and 54-46 provisions dealing with government records. TigerSwan contracted with Energy Transfer to provide services related to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Board commenced administrative proceedings against TigerSwan alleging it provided investigative and security services in North Dakota without a license. TigerSwan was compelled to disclose documents to the Board, some of which were the focus of this appeal. Energy Transfer filed a motion to intervene in the administrative proceedings claiming roughly 16,000 documents TigerSwan disclosed were confidential. Energy Transfer sought to intervene for the purpose of compelling the return of the documents and to obtain a protective order. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the partial summary judgment as final under N.D.R.Civ.P. 54(b), and it did not err in granting partial summary judgment. View "Energy Transfer, et al. v. ND Private Investigative and Security Bd., et al." on Justia Law
Solarize Indiana, Inc. v. Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Co.
The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal brought by Solarize Indiana, Inc. seeking judicial review of the administration decision of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) approving two filings submitted by Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana, Inc. under an expedited process known as the "Thirty-Day Rule," holding that Solarize lacked standing to bring this appeal.In objecting to Vectren's filings, Solarize, an organization that promotes the use of solar power in Indiana, asserted that the filings were not compliant with federal law. The IURC approved the filings, after which Solarize requested judicial review. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Solarize lacked standing because it failed to show that it was "adversely affected" by the IURC's order. View "Solarize Indiana, Inc. v. Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Co." on Justia Law
Armstrong v. Helms
Phillip Armstrong appealed a judgment dismissing his amended complaint. The district court granted dismissal of the amended complaint after finding Armstrong had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. In 1996, Armstrong filed a surety bond with the North Dakota Industrial Commission when he became the operator of several oil wells on private land. In 2001, Armstrong also began operating wells on federal lands. Armstrong was engaged with federal authorities in formulating a reclamation plan for the federal lands. The wells were not producing oil, and Armstrong requested a release of his surety bond filed with the Commission. The Commission conditioned the release of the bond on Armstrong performing a geoprobe assessment of the wells, which Armstrong refused. Armstrong thereafter filed a complaint in the district court seeking release of his bond. The court ultimately concluded Armstrong's claims were barred by his failure to exhaust his administrative remedies, rejected Armstrong’s argument state law did not apply because of federal preemption, and entered a judgment dismissing the action. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded federal regulations did not preempt the application of N.D.C.C. ch. 38-08, Armstrong failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, and the court properly dismissed the action. View "Armstrong v. Helms" on Justia Law
Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah, et al. v. Lawrence, et al.
At issue in this appeal was a contract dispute between Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation (the Tribe) and Lynn Becker, a non-Indian. The contract concerned Becker’s work marketing and developing the Tribe’s mineral resources on the Ute reservation. Becker sued the Tribe in Utah state court for allegedly breaching the contract by failing to pay him a percentage of certain revenue the Tribe received from its mineral holdings. Later, the Tribe filed this lawsuit, challenging the state court’s subject-matter jurisdiction under federal law. The district court denied the Tribe’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the state-court proceedings, and the Tribe appealed. After its review, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, finding the Tribe was entitled to injunctive relief. The appellate court found the trial court’s factual findings established that Becker’s state-court claims arose on the reservation because no substantial part of the conduct supporting them occurred elsewhere. And because the claims arose on the reservation, the state court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction absent congressional authorization. Accordingly, under the particular circumstances of this appeal, the Tenth Circuit "close[d] this chapter in Becker’s dispute with the Tribe by ordering the district court to permanently enjoin the state-court proceedings." View "Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah, et al. v. Lawrence, et al." on Justia Law