The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has overruled a trial court and allowed construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline to continue. In allowing construction to continue, the appellate court stated that it is likely that the district judge’s decision to stop construction was an “abuse of discretion.” The case involves claims […]Read more "Appeals Court Allows Bayou Bridge Pipeline Construction to Continue"
In State of Texas v. Morello, the Texas Supreme Court reversed a mid-level appellate court and reinstated a trial court’s judgment making Bernard Morello personally liable for approximately $400,000 in civil penalties for environmental violations. The Company’s History of Permit Violations Morello had been the sole member and manager of While Lion Holdings, a limited liability company. […]Read more "Texas Supreme Court Holds Manager Personally Liable for Environmental Penalties"
On February 8, 2018, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its enforcement statistics for its 2017 fiscal year, which ended September 30, 2017. For this fiscal year, the number of federal criminal environmental cases filed by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) was less than half of the number that DOJ filed […]Read more "Trends in Federal Enforcement: Fewer Cases but More Prison Time"
I am pleased to announce that as of February 1, 2018, I am a shareholder at Crain Caton & James, P.C. I am especially excited to join with Robert E. “Robin” Morse, Kelly D. Brown, and Cory R. Thornton; together, we bring over 100 years of environmental law experience. More about them, below. My new […]Read more "Jim Smith Joins Crain Caton & James"
The United States Supreme Court issued a ruling on a procedural issue relating to the regulatory definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS). Specifically, the Supreme Court ruled that challenges to the latest WOTUS definition must be made in district (trial level) courts, not in the courts of appeals. In the Alert that I […]Read more "Supreme Court Refuses to Fix the Clean Water Act Mess that Congress Created"
A recent decision by a federal district court in Houston, Texas demonstrates how easy it is for plaintiffs to establish standing in citizen’s suits. All of the major federal environmental laws allow for citizen’s suits. These are suits to enforce environmental permits or regulations brought by private citizens. Things could change if President Trump is […]Read more "Standing in Citizen’s Suits: Easy Now, but Will It Get Harder?"
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an opinion that simplifies the test to determine when maritime law applies to service contracts relating to the production of oil and gas in navigable waters. Under the new two pronged test, a services contract is subject to maritime law when: 1) the contract […]Read more "5th Circuit Simplifies Test to Determine if a Service Contract for an Offshore Gas Well Is Subject to Maritime Law"