Posts Authored by Zachary D. Eddy

WV high court sides with Antero in implied surface easement dispute

Law 360 reports that the West Virginia Supreme Court has issued its ruling in the matter of Robert L. Andrews et al. v. Antero Resources Corp. et al. The court addressed whether the plaintiff landowners were unreasonably and substantially burdened by the defendant gas developers’ activities on and around their land. The majority opinion held that the plaintiffs failed to present evidence of such a burden, particularly on the issue of whether Antero’s activities to develop the mineral estate were reasonably necessary. In addition, the court found that the landowners’ stated “…annoyances, inconveniences, and discomforts” in relation to Antero’s activities on the property “simply do not rise to the level of a substantial burden” as required by West Virginia case law.

The 3-2 decision affirms the lower court’s ruling that the defendants acted in accordance with their implied rights to use the surface estates. Justice Jenkins wrote the majority opinion. In dissent, Justice Workman criticized the majority for failing to provide any guidance on the interplay of the competing rights of a surface landowner and a mineral estate owner. Law 360 notes that this type of conflict between oil & gas E&P companies and landowners is on the rise in West Virginia; it's expected that the number will only continue to grow because of the prevalence of split surface and mineral estates in the Appalachian region.

West Virginia

Investment in Ohio shale reaches $74 billion, continues to grow

A quarterly report commissioned by JobsOhio and issued by Cleveland State University’s Energy Policy Center shows continued strong investment in oil and gas production in eastern Ohio, reaching $74 billion for the period between 2011 and the second quarter of 2018. The Energy Policy Center based its findings on investment data from companies in the region. Most of this investment has been in the upstream applications of oil and gas production. Other developing investments include ironmaking plants in Toledo and Ashtabula County; potential investments include PTT Global’s proposed petrochemical plant in Belmont County. Read the full story.

Ohio

Power companies ask Supreme Court to strike down nuclear power subsidies; Supreme Court denies petitions for writs of certiorari (update)

Update:  On April 15, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court denied, without decision, two petitions for writs of certiorari that were filed by one of the nation’s leading trade associations representing independent power producers. Those cases alleged, among other things, that ZEN legislation out of both New York and Illinois were preempted by federal law. The Court upheld the dismissal of the complaint in each case, and the Zero Emission Nuclear (ZEN) legislation in New York and Illinois was effectively upheld as not in violation of the Federal Power Act.

On January 7, 2019, the Electric Power Supply Association, one of the nation’s leading trade associations representing independent power producers, filed two petitions for writs of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. The writs for cert arise from appeals of a Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which is summarized here, and a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which is summarized here, that both upheld state subsidies for nuclear power generation facilities in New York and Illinois, respectively. The question presented by both appeals is “[w]hether the [Federal Power Act (FPA), 16 U.S.C. § 791a et seq.] preempts only state subsidies that explicitly require a wholesale generator to sell its output in FERC-approved auctions, or whether the FPA also preempts state subsidies that lack such an express requirement but that, by design, subsidize only generators that sell their entire output via such auctions, thereby achieving the same effect.”

Both petitions urged the Court to recognize the great importance of the decisions from the Second Circuit and Seventh Circuit if upheld. “The economic and policy stakes are enormous,” and the subsidies will grossly distort market outcomes. “Unless this Court intervenes, these subsidy schemes will impose huge costs and threaten serious distortions of the FERC-authorized mechanisms for setting wholesale rates at economically efficient levels and sending appropriate price signals to wholesale market participants.” To the petitioners, the decisions ratify “a fundamental transfer of regulatory authority to the States and away from the federal government and its policy of relying on market forces to set just and reasonable wholesale rates and send economically efficient signals regarding market entry and exit.”

This case will have major ramifications across the country but particularly here in Ohio, as the outcome could work to either essentially permit or effectively preempt future attempts at providing nuclear subsidies to failing generation facilities. The response date for both petitions has been set for February 7, 2019.

National, Oil & Gas Litigation

2019 Infrastructure Funding: How to get it and spend it wisely

On January 14, 2019, the President signed the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (H.R. 7279), granting municipalities new statutory tools to affordably confront expensive infrastructure challenges using Integrated Planning. Bricker & Eckler, McMahon DeGulis and Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District are hosting a series of free public infrastructure planning events to discuss these tools and the integrated planning process.

This program will be offered in various Ohio locations February through May. For more information, including schedule, location details and to register, visit the event page.

Ohio

$86 million Risberg Line project approved for construction

The $86 million Risberg Line project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 14, according to Star Beacon. The project will extend the natural gas pipeline by 28 miles through northwest Ashtabula County and is expected to increase job opportunities and tax revenue for the surrounding areas. For more, read the full story.

Ohio, Pennsylvania

Funding approved for new railyard facility in Hannibal

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown announced $20 million in funding for the construction of a new railyard and pipeline facility in the town of Hannibal, Ohio on Dec. 6, according to The Daily Jeff. The rail transloading project is expected to increase the area’s energy exports and connectivity to global markets. For more, read the full story.

Ohio

Second Circuit follows lead of Seventh: Nuke subsidies upheld

On September 27, 2018, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in Coalition for Competitive Electricity v. Zibelman, 2nd Cir. No. 17-2654, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27605 (Sep. 27, 2018). This decision, which follows the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Elec. Power Supply Assn. v. Anthony M. Star, summarized here, is the second decision in the span of two weeks to affirm a state’s subsidization of nuclear generation facilities. As in Star, the principal issue in Zibelman was whether the Federal Power Act, specifically 16 U.S.C. § 824(b)(1), which provides that the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) is to regulate the sale of electricity in interstate commerce, and the states are to regulate local distribution and the facilities used to generate power, preempts a state law that seeks to subsidize some of the state’s nuclear generation facilities in the form of zero emission credits (ZEC) credits. Following the Seventh Circuit’s lead, the Second Circuit held that the state program was not preempted by the Federal Power Act; however, the decision differed in two main respects. For more, read the full publication.

National

Ohio law requires oil and gas land professionals to hold broker’s license to be compensated

On September 25, 2018, the Ohio Supreme Court issued its decision in Thomas Dundics v. Eric Petroleum, Slip Opinion No. 2018-Ohio-3826, holding that the plain language of Ohio Revised Code 4735.01 does not exclude oil and gas land professionals or oil and gas leases from the definitions of “real estate” and “real estate broker” within the statute. The case considered the specific question of whether “oil-and-gas land professionals, who help obtain oil-and-gas leases for oil-and-gas development businesses, must be licensed real-estate brokers when they engage in the activities described in R.C. 4735.01(A) with respect to oil-and-gas leases,” and “[m]ore specifically, … whether R.C. 4735.21 precludes a person who is not a licensed real-estate broker from bringing a cause of action to recover compensation allegedly owed for negotiating oil-and-gas leases." For more, read the full story

Ohio, Oil & Gas Litigation

Bricker partners with Ohio advancement groups to host economic development trainings

Attorneys within Bricker & Eckler's economic development practice have partnered with APEG, JobsOhio and OEDA to design and host EDNow!, an upcoming economic development training program. EDNow! empowers elected and appointed community leaders, especially those within Southern and Eastern Ohio, to guide their local communities’ futures with cutting-edge economic development strategies. Buckeye Hills Regional Council, OVRDC and OMEGA have also assisted with this initiative.

The program will be offered in various Ohio locations on September 26 and October 10. For more information, including the schedule, location details and ticket information, visit the EDNow! event page.

Ohio

7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirms Illinois subsidy for nuclear generation facilities

On September 13, 2018, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued its long-awaited decision in the consolidated cases of Elec. Power Supply Assn. v. Anthony M. Star, 7th Cir. Nos. 17-2433, 17-2445, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 25980 (Sep. 13, 2018).  The decision — authored by the well-known jurist, Circuit Judge Frank Easterbrook — decided an issue that is very similar to an issue also currently pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the case of Coalition For Competitive Electricity, et al. v. Zibelman, et al., 2nd Cir. No. 17-2654. The issue in question is namely whether the Federal Power Act preempts a state law that sought to subsidize some of the state’s nuclear generation facilities. The Federal Power Act provision— 16 U.S.C. § 824(b)(1) — provides that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is to regulate the sale of electricity in interstate commerce, whereas the states are to regulate local distribution and the facilities used to generate power. For more, read the full story

Ohio, Oil & Gas Litigation
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