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On January 25, the Texas Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in the case of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Anadarko E&P Co. v. Houston Cas. Co., et al., characterized as an “interlocutory permissive appeal,” reversing the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, sitting in Beaumont, TX, regarding Anadarko’s insurers’ obligation to pay a significant amount of Anadarko’s legal defense costs that resulted from its liability in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

“[W]e hold that the Joint Venture Provision does not limit the Underwriters’ liability for Anadarko’s defense expenses insured under section III.”

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Recently, our colleagues Amanda Halter, Stella Pulman and Ashleigh Acevedo published their Client Alert titled BSEE Decommission-in-Place Discussions Present Opportunity discussing the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE) Request for Information Regarding Potential Impacts of Decommissioning-in-Place of Pipeline-Related Infrastructure in Deepwater.  Takeaways include:

  • BSEE is asking for input on technical, safety and environmental and other factors that should be included as decom-in-place decision-making considerations for pipeline infrastructures in deepwater on the Outer Continental shelf (OCS).
  • Companies with potentially affected assets have an opportunity to advance more predictable and holistic decision-making by commenting on whether and under what circumstances the BSEE should allow decommissioning-in-place of these pipeline-related infrastructures.

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There were 442 bills passed by the 115th Congress and signed by the President. Most of these new laws have attracted very little attention, so it may be helpful to review a few of them. The list below provides a glimpse into the myriad issues that face each Congress, and the implementation issues that will be the responsibility of the federal agencies:

• PL 115-265, the Save our Seas Act of 2018. The law reauthorizes and amends the Marine Debris Act, located at 33 U.S.C. § 1952, to “promote international action to remove marine debris”. The law requires the Department of State and other federal agencies to develop outreach and educational strategies to address the source of marine debris and provide technical assistance reduce the incidence of marine debris and provide technical assistance to expand waste management systems on an international basis. In case of a “severe marine debris” event, to assist in the cleanup. It is also the sense of Congress that the President should support research and development on systems that result in the reduction of derelict fishing gear and land-based sources of debris that enters the marine environment. The law addresses the membership of an Interagency Marine Debris Coordination Committee. The enormous amount of plastic waste deposited in the ocean must have been a concern to the legislators. Continue reading

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Today, our colleagues Ken Taber, Rebecca Carr Rizzo, Andrew Lauria and Kristen Ferguson published their Client Alert titled New York Employment Law Outlook 2019. Their Client Alert discusses employment laws that were introduced in 2018 in New York.

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On January 14, the Colorado Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (Commission) properly declined to undertake a rulemaking proceeding that was designed to preclude the Commission from issuing new permits unless the “best available science,” as confirmed by the findings of an independent third-party organization, determines that the drilling will occur in a manner that does not cumulatively impair the state’s atmosphere, water, wildlife, land resources and does not contribute to climate change. The case is Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, et al., v. Martinez, et al.

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Today, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that it will review the U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit’s February 2018 ruling in Newton v. Parker Drilling Management Services, Ltd. which held that California’s wage and hour laws can apply to  claims made by workers employees on Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) platforms where federal law is preeminent—except where there is a gap in legal protection that can be filled by the laws of the  adjacent state.  This ruling, the Petition for Writ of Certiorari agues, was in conflict with the rulings of other federal circuit courts, especially the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Otherwise, these OCS claims are subject to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Additional Source: Ninth Circuit Remands OCSLA Wage and Hour Complaint to Central District

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In case you missed it, on January 7, Pillsbury attorneys David Dixon, Dick Oliver, and Toghrul Shukurlu published their Client Alert titled Small Business Holiday Gift: Change to Small Business Act May Affect Size Status for Many Service Providers. Takeaways from their Client Alert include:

  • The Small Business Runway Extension Act of 2018 will allow some service contractors who would have otherwise outgrown their applicable size standard to remain eligible for small business set-aside contracts.
  • This Act may also negatively affect certain large businesses with declining revenues by extending the period before they can become eligible for small business set-aside contracts.
  • Small and large business concerns that have recently outgrown their size standards should be aware of this change in the method of calculating their average annual revenues when conducting business planning.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has stated that the increased time period for calculating average annual revenues will not take effect until the SBA issues a final regulation implementing this change.

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Here’s the visionary “Green New Deal” of the Green Party, apparently drafted sometime in 2016 and which has attracted some support. The centerpiece of this program is the transition to a 100% clean, renewable energy base. These ideas are generating some comment.

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In what the Court of Appeals describes as “the infamous government-created environmental disaster known at the Flint Water Crisis,” a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled that some of the government personnel responsible for this disaster may be liable, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for monetary damages based on the Substantive Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The case is Guertin, et al., v. State of Michigan, et al., decided on January 4, 2019.

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With the close of 2018, the Competitive Enterprise Institute released a report asking “how is President Donald Trump’s regulatory reform project going”? Their answer: “Better than Obama, Bush II, and Clinton in terms of fewer regulations, but not as good as Trump’s own first year.”

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