Environmental and Energy Law Blog

Monday, August 8, 2016

Colorado Fines Texas Company Over Illegal Wells


What are the penalties for not complying with a state energy regulator?

In July, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission fined Texas-based Atom Petroleum for continuing to operate an oil and gas well after being issued a Cease and Desist order. The commission slapped Atom with a $239, 496 fine, and is requiring the company to take a number of corrective actions.

Atom partnered with Hoshi Energy, LLC in the purchase of 40 wells in bankruptcy proceedings of the previous owner, Red Mesa Holdings in 2015. Prior to beginning operations, Atom and Hoshi also failed to pay Colorado $360,000 in financial assurances. Inspectors found drilling had begun in January, however, and the state determined the drilling activities posed a severe risk to public health and the environment.


Read more . . .


Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Billion Dollar Oil Lawsuit: An Example of Why Venue Matters


The location where a trial takes place matters. There is no better example of this in the gas and oil context than the ongoing legal battle over Chevron’s operations in the Ecuadorean jungle.

In February 2011, a court in Lago Agrio, Ecuador determined Chevron was liable for decades of pollution and social ills related to its oil business in the country. It awarded the villagers who had brought the case $18 billion in damages. Chevron appealed the decision, and the judgement was reduced to $9.


Read more . . .


Thursday, July 14, 2016

TransCanada Sues U.S. for Rejecting Keystone XL Pipeline


Why did The US reject the Keystone XL pipeline project? 

In November 2015, President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, claiming it would not help the U.S. economy or enhance the Nation's energy security and that the project would expand carbon emissions. Now, TransCanada has filed a $15 billion arbitration claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to recoup costs and damages the company allegedly suffered.

TransCanada contends that denying the Keystone XL permit was politically motivated and that the decision lacked validity.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Is Oil the Next Target for Tobacco Like Litigation?


In 1998, after years of legal skirmishes, the attorneys general from 46 states won a landmark, $200 billion settlement from the tobacco industry. The huge pot of money was divided up between the states, and used to fund tobacco cessation programs, fill budget gaps, and line the pockets of private attorneys that had assisted the attorneys general. States and attorneys viewed the settlement as such a success that ever since then there has been constant chatter in the legal community speculating about what industry will be the next Big Tobacco? Who can the states sue to get their next windfall?

Over the past few months, it has become clear that the new target is the oil industry. Fortunately, it is not at all clear that the oil industry will be as easy of a target as the tobacco industry was.  

The past decade has seen many unsuccessful lawsuits filed by plaintiffs against oil and gas producers arguing that the industry is responsible for climate change.


Read more . . .


Monday, June 20, 2016

EPA Unveils New Methane Emissions Rules


What is the extent of methane emissions in the U.S. oil and gas industry?

In May, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new rule designed to curb methane emissions in the oil and gas industry. The goal is to prevent 11 million tons of "carbon dioxide equivalent" emissions by 2025 from new or modified oil and gas wells. The EPA also plans to regulate existing oil rigs, well pads and auxiliary equipment after further study of emissions from these sources.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Texas Supreme Court Limits Cities' Role in Emissions


Can cities in Texas enforce state level environmental regulations?

In May, the Texas Supreme Court invalidated criminal enforcement provisions of Houston's air quality ordinance.  In particular, the court struck down stipulations that allowed for fines up to $2,000 a day for violations of state environmental regulations.  A requirement that certain facilities register with the city and also pay a fee was also invalidated.

Challenge by BCCA

The ordinance was challenged by BCCA Appeal Group Inc., a business coalition that was comprised of companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp.


Read more . . .


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Record Breaking Settlement in BP Oil Spill Case Approved


How much with the oil spill cost BP?

In 2010, one of the largest environmental disasters in history took place off the coast of the United States: the BP oil spill.  In April of that year, an oilrig called the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.  The accident killed 11 workers and caused millions of gallons of oil to be released into the ocean.


Read more . . .


Saturday, May 7, 2016

States Push Back Against BLM


Do the states have authority over oil and gas activity on federal lands?

The battle between a number of states and The Bureau of Land Management over the regulation of oil and gas on federal lands presses on. In 2015, a U.S. District Court judge issued an injunction blocking the implementation of more stringent rules related to underground injections, including fracking.

More recently,


Read more . . .


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Number of Energy Leases on Federal Land Continues to Fall


What is the Obama Administration's position on drilling on federal lands?

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released data showing the number of oil and natural gas leases on federal land fell last year, continuing a trend that began in 2008. Moreover, the number of unused drilling permits is at an all time high.

Reasons for Falling Energy Production

Some observers argue that the Obama Administration is squandering the shale renaissance by not promoting drilling on U.S. lands.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dallas Coal Power Plants Targeted by the EPA


What is the status of Luminant Coal Plants in North Texas?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA ) has issued a preliminary ruling that three Luminant coal plants emitting sulfur dioxide do not comply with federal standards. This comes after the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) told the agency there was insufficient data from the EPA tests and that the sites around the Big Brown, Martin Lake and Monticello plants should have met federal standards. For its part, Luminant believes the EPA's methodology was flawed.
Read more . . .


Monday, March 21, 2016

Energy Company Contract Lawsuits Could Have Huge Impact on $500 Billion Pipeline Sector


Can oil and gas producers use Chapter 11 to escape long-term pipeline contracts?

Falling energy prices have put many Texas oil and gas producers in a difficult spot, particularly those committed to long-term contracts with the pipeline companies that transport their products.

Houston-based Sabine Oil and Gas and Fort Worth-based Quicksilver resources are seeking permission from bankruptcy courts to cancel or renegotiate long-term pipeline and gathering contracts. If the requests succeed, midstream companies, many of which have invested billions in pipelines and other infrastructure for fracking, could face serious problems as other oil and gas producers adopt the same strategy.
Read more . . .


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