American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020 - 20

pages 14-21_Layout 1 6/11/2020 8:27 AM Page 20

Federal Judges Send
Climate Cases Back
To California Courts
LOS ANGELES-A panel of federal
judges has ruled unanimously a state
court is the proper venue for lawsuits
filed by California cities and counties
alleging oil companies encouraged
petroleum use although they knew it was
increasing the impacts of climate change.
The oil companies involved include
Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP,
ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell.
The California counties of Marin
and San Mateo, joined by the city of
Imperial Beach, filed three similar
complaints in a state court against
more than 30 energy companies in July
2017. They asserted the extraction,
refining and production of fossil fuel
products "is a substantial factor in
causing the increase in global mean
temperature and consequent increase in
global mean sea surface height," court
documents state. The plaintiffs claim
the companies are guilty of public and
private nuisance, failure to warn,
negligence and trespassing.
The energy companies sought to
move the complaints to a federal court,

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arguing their contracts with federal
agencies gave that court jurisdiction.
Shortly after, Santa Cruz County and
the cities of Santa Cruz and Richmond
filed similar complaints in a state court,
and the companies sought to move those
cases to the federal level as well. The
companies opted to appeal a decision to
return the cases to a state court.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals panel limited its scope to
determining whether the district court
erred in rejecting the companies' claim
the case has a sufficient federal nexus to
warrant moving the cases to a federal
court.
The defendants argued that oil and
gas production took place under federal
laws and regulations. They asserted they
qualified for such status because they
were "persons acting under" a federal
officer based on three agreements with
the federal government, court
documents describe-a contract to
provide gasoline to a Navy exchange
retail store; a unit agreement to develop
petroleum reserves at Elk Hills Field;
and oil and gas leases on submerged
lands under the Outer Continental Shelf
Lands Act.
The circuit court rejected all three

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20 THE AMERICAN OIL & GAS REPORTER

Appeals Court Rejects
Bid To Block NWP 12,
Keystone XL Decisions
SAN FRANCISCO-The U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers lost another legal
battle in its push to advance the Keystone
XL pipeline, with a federal court denying
a second attempt to remove an injunction
blocking a water-crossing permit for TC
Energy's pipeline project.
In addition to blocking the Keystone
XL permit, the decision issued by the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
blocks the Corps from issuing that
authorization, the Nationwide Permit 12
that governs dredging work in waterways,
for other U.S. pipeline projects.
The 9th Circuit ruling in Northern
Plains Resource Council v. U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers follows District
Court Judge Brian Morris' rejection of a
plea to narrow his April ruling on NWP
12. The appeals court decision states the
agency has failed to demonstrate "a
sufficient likelihood of success on the
merits and probability of irreparable
harm to warrant a stay pending appeal."
In his decision, issued May 11,
Morris said the Corps did not adequately
consider NWP 12's impacts on the pallid
sturgeon and American burying beetle
when it granted the permits. In the case
heard in the U.S. District Court for the
District of Montana, he ruled federal
agencies cannot rely on project-level
reviews when considering permits
(AOGR, May 2020, pg. 30).
The 9th Circuit ruling requires the
Corps to use a more rigorous permitting
process on each individual stream or
wetlands dredging project until the
judicial system makes a final decision
on the permitting system, media reports
indicate. NWP 12 allowed a streamlined
permitting process for utility projects
that disturbed no more than half an acre.
Morris's original ruling affected every
utility project across the United States,
including pipelines and electric
transmission lines, that relied on NWP 12.
Court documents point out he amended
that decision on May 12, limiting its
impact to oil and natural gas pipelines.
A coalition of industry groups,
including the American Petroleum
Institute, Association of Oil Pipelines
and American Gas Association, had
filed the emergency motion in the 9th
Circuit that requested a stay.
"Judge Morris' decision makes the
fate of hundreds of energy infrastructure
projects uncertain, and could jeopardize
good-paying, middle class sustaining jobs
around the country-as well as the energy


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American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020

Contents
American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020 - Intro
American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020 - 1
American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020 - 2
American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020 - Contents
American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020 - 4
American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020 - 5
American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020 - 6
American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020 - 7
American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020 - 8
American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020 - 9
American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020 - 10
American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020 - 11
American Oil and Gas Reporter - June 2020 - 12
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