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Caselaw Update: Liability of Former Operators under Surface Use Agreements in Wyoming

Recent caselaw and the application of Wyoming’s Split Estate Act has significantly increased risk for operators in Wyoming, who may be held liable for the conduct of their assignees (and their assignees) if such conduct breaches a surface use and damages agreement.     In 2015 and 2016, the Wyoming Supreme Court issued rulings in what have come to be known as the Pennaco Cases (Pennaco Energy, Inc. v. KD Co. Ltd. Liab. Co.and Pennaco Energy, Inc. v....
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Caselaw Update: Exercise of Eminent Domain under the Natural Gas Act

Since the early 1800s, natural gas has been an integral part of the nation’s energy supply.  Roughly one hundred years later, a cross-country natural gas pipeline network began to take shape and expand.  In 1938, in response to the booming pipeline infrastructure, Congress passed the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) to regulate the transportation and sale of natural gas.   The NGA requires natural gas companies to obtain a certificate of public convenience and necessity before constructing an...
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Covid-19 Policy Update: Employer Vaccination Mandates

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and recent surge in infections and hospitalizations cases caused by the virus’ Delta variant, many employers have considered vaccine mandates to mitigate the severity of business interruption and promote workplace safety. The federal government has required its employees and those in federally regulated sectors (such as the military) to receive the Covid-19 vaccination. Many state and local governments...
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Covid-19 Policy Update: CDC Eviction Moratorium

On September 4, 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued an order barring residential evictions to prevent further spread of the virus. The CDC reasoned that the eviction moratorium would facilitate the self-isolation of ill or at-risk individuals, assist with the implementation of state and local ‘stay-home’ orders and social distancing mandates,...
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Federal Litigation Update: Executive Order 14008 

  On June 15, 2021, the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted a nationwide preliminary injunction in favor of Louisiana and twelve other states which halted enforcement of the Biden administration’s prohibition on oil and gas leases on public lands and water memorialized in Section 208 of Executive Order 14008 (“E.O. 14008”). The court does not normally favor nationwide injunctions but found necessity in the interest of uniformity—government lease sales affect public lands and offshore waters countrywide.  ...
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Legislative Update: Texas SB 45 & HB 21

Texas SB 45 & HB 21 were signed into law in May and June this year by Governor Abbott, each effective September 1, 2021. This legislation broadly redefines sexual harassment in the workplace by expanding employee protection, broadening employer liability and extending filing deadlines. The legislation is a significant shift from previous laws governing sexual harassment claims, and employers should be sure to familiarize themselves with the new laws and enact...
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Legislative Update: Texas SB 13

Earlier this year, the General Land Office (“GLO”) created the Texas Defense Task Force (more on that here) to defend state land rights and combat federal policies that threaten the Texas oil and gas industry. The Task Force is just one of the ways that the Texas government is working to protect the state’s energy economy – the state continues to implement other measures to support the oil and gas industry.   In January, prior to the formation of...
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Legislative Update: Texas’ Pandemic Liability Protection Act (PLPA)

On June 14, 2021, Governor Abbott signed the Pandemic Liability Protection Act (“PLPA”) into law, effective immediately. The PLPA protects businesses from liability for claims arising from exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)—including claims made by employees—and applies retroactively to all unadjudicated claims commenced on or after March 13, 2020. The act will remain in effect until such time as any disaster declaration relating to the pandemic is terminated.  ...
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Legislative Update: SB 1259

On May 24, 2021, Governor Abbott signed SB 1259 into law, effective immediately. The bill was introduced by the state legislature in response to the Texas Supreme Court’s 2017 decision in ConocoPhillips v. Koopmann, in which the Court held that the Texas division order statute did not prevent a royalty owner from bringing a common law breach of contract claim against a...
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