Articles Posted in U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

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APAC petitioned for review of a settlement agreement between the BPA and a large number of its customers. The settlement set terms for refunding customers who were previously over-charged, as well as setting terms for the next seventeen years. APAC alleged that the settlement violated several provisions of the Pacific Northwest Power Planning and Conservation Act (NWPA), 16 U.S.C. 839c(c), 839e(b); the Bonneville Project Act, 16 U.S.C. 832d(a); regulations of the Federal Energy Commission, 18 C.F.R. 300.1(b)(6), 300.21(e)(1); and the court's decision in Portland Gen. Elec. Co. v. BPA and Golden NW. Aluminum, Inc. v. BPA. As a preliminary matter, the court concluded that APAC had standing to challenge the settlement because of the "pass-through" contracts under which its members pay rates that directly reflect the rates BPA charged its direct customers. On the merits, the court concluded that the settlement complied with the relevant statutory requirements and with the court's prior decisions. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "APAC v. BPA" on Justia Law

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Rocky Mountain and American Fuels filed two separate actions against CARB, contending that the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, Cal. Code Regs. tit. 17, 95480-90, violated the dormant Commerce Clause and was preempted by Section 211(o) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7545(o), known as the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The court held that the Fuel Standard's regulation of ethanol did not facially discriminate against out-of-state commerce, and its initial crude-oil provisions (2011 Provisions) did not discriminate against out-of-state crude oil in purpose or practical effect. The court also held that the Fuel Standard did not violate the dormant Commerce Clause's prohibition on extraterritorial regulation. The court vacated the preliminary injunction and remanded to the district court for further considerations under Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc. View "Rocky Mountain Farmers Union v. Corey" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff challenged the EPA's permit allowing Shell to construct, operate, and conduct "pollutant emitting activities" associated with a drill vessel (the "Kulluk") in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska's North Slope. The court rejected Plaintiff's argument that the Environmental Appeals Board's (EAB) Decision was not entitled to Chevron deference; Section 7661c(e) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7661c(e), was ambiguous, and the EPA's interpretation was reasonable under the applicable statutes' plain language; the court owed Chevron deference to the EAB Decision not to require a preconstruction increment analysis for the "Kulluk;" and the EPA permissibly granted a 500-meter exemption to the "Kulluk" from "ambient air" standards. View "Alaska Wilderness League v. EPA" on Justia Law

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These cases arose out of the energy crisis of 2000-2002. Plaintiffs, retail buyers of natural gas, alleged that defendants, natural gas traders, manipulated the price of natural gas by reporting false information to price indices published by trade publications and engaging in wash sales. The court held that the Natural Gas Act (NGA), 15 U.S.C. 717 et seq., did not preempt plaintiffs' state antitrust claims, and reversed the district court's order granting summary judgment to defendants. The 2003 enactment of FERC's Code of Conduct did not affect the court's conclusion that the NGA did not grant FERC jurisdiction over claims arising out of false price reporting and other anticompetitive behavior associated with nonjurisdictional sales. The court found that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the Heartland Plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend to add a treble damages state law claim and therefore affirmed the district court's order denying that motion. The court reversed the district court's order dismissing the AEP Defendants from the Wisconsin Arandell case for lack of personal jurisdiction. Because the court agreed with the district court's conclusion that the plain text of Wisconsin Statutes 133.14 allowed recovery only by plaintiffs who were direct purchasers under the voided contract, the court affirmed the district court's order granting partial summary judgment to DETM. View "In re: Western States Antitrust Litig." on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from Greenpeace's public campaign to stop Shell from driling in the Arctic. Greenpeace appealed the district court's grant of Shell's motion for a preliminary injunction, which prohibited Greenpeace from coming within a specified distance of vessels involved in Shell's Arctic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) exploration and from committing various unlawful and tortious acts against those vessels. The court affirmed the judgment, concluding that the action presented a justiciable case or controversy, that the district court had jurisdiction to issue its order, and that it did not abuse its discretion in doing so. View "Shell Offshore, Inc., et al v. Greenpeace, Inc." on Justia Law

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These consolidated petitions for review challenged a contract between the BPA and one of its long-time customers, Alcoa. BPA's preference customers and others filed this petition for review, requesting that the court hold that the contract was unlawful because it was inconsistent with the agency's statutory mandate to act in accordance with sound business principles. Petitioners claimed, among other things, that instead of entering into a contract to sell power to Alcoa at the statutorily required Industrial Firm power (IP) rate, BPA should sell to other buyers at the market rate. The court denied the petitions for review insofar as they pertained to the Initial Period. Because the potential for BPA and Alcoa to enter into the Second Period of the contract was no longer before the court, the court dismissed those portions of the petitions. Finally, the court held that because BPA relied on a categorical exclusion to the National Environmental Policy Act's (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347, requirements, declining to complete an Environmental Impact Statement was not arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, the court denied petitioner's NEPA claim. View "Alcoa Inc. v. BPA, et al" on Justia Law

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Kivalina appealed the district court's dismissal of their action for damages against Energy Producers. Kivalina alleged that massive greenhouse gas emissions emitted by the Energy Producers have resulted in global warming, which, in turn, has severely eroded the land where the City of Kivalina sits and threatens it with imminent destruction. Kivalina sought damages under a federal common law claim of public nuisance. At issue was whether the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq., and the EPA action that the Act authorized, displaced Kivalina's claims. The court concluded that the Supreme Court has held that federal common law addressing domestic greenhouse gas emissions has been displaced by Congressional action. That determination displaced federal common law public nuisance actions seeking damages, as well as those actions seeking injunctive relief. The civil conspiracy claim fell within the substantive claim. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Native Village of Kivalina, et al v. Exxonmobile Corp., et al" on Justia Law

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The United States petitioned the district court for an order enforcing a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) subpoena served on Golden Valley Electric Association (Golden Valley) for power consumption records concerning three customer residences. The court granted the petition and ordered compliance. Golden Valley complied with the subpoena but appealed the order. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) Golden Valley's compliance with the district court's enforcement order did not moot the appeal; (2) the DEA's subpoena sought information relevant to a drug investigation, was procedurally proper, and was not overly broad; and (3) the subpoena complied with the Fourth Amendment. View "United States v. Golden Valley Elec. Ass'n" on Justia Law

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Two environmental groups (Petitioners) petitioned for review of a final rulemaking by the EPA that approved a revision to a California state plan to implement national ambient air quality standards for air pollutants. The revision required the South Coast Air Quality Management District to transfer credits to a soon-to-be-completed power plant named Sentinel. Petitioners alleged that the EPA committed procedural errors during the rulemaking process and that the substance of the revised state plan violated the Clean Air Act. Petitioners and the EPA agreed this case should be remanded because the EPA's final rule was invalid, so the only dispute was whether vacatur was appropriate. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals remanded without vacatur so the construction of the power plant could proceed without delay, as the power supply would otherwise be interrupted and the plant's operation was not authorized to commence without a new and valid EPA rule in place. View "Ca. Cmtys. Against Toxics v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Pentonville Developers, Ltd. and Marblearch Trading, Ltd., two Cyprus oil brokerage companies, sued the Republic of Iraq for unilaterally terminating two contracts for the purchase and sale of Iraqi oil. The district court concluded it had subject matter jurisdiction notwithstanding Iraq's assertion of sovereign immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act because the lawsuit fell within the "commercial exception" to that immunity. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that because the lawsuit was not based upon commercial activity by Iraq in the United States, nor upon an act in connection with such commercial activity having a direct effect in the United States, the district court erred in denying Iraq's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Terenkian v. Republic of Iraq " on Justia Law