Donate   |   Search   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In
Community Search
Energy Utilities Law Content
Share |


 

July 2018

 

Happy Summer, Energy Utility Section Members!  I hope everyone has had a great first half of the year filled with professional success and personal wellness.  We are seven weeks away from the 2018 Annual Meeting in Maui, which should be fantastic.  If you have not registered and made hotel reservations, please do so at your earliest opportunity.  Our section meeting for the Maui meeting will Tuesday, July 31 at 7:00 a.m.  We are having a joint meeting with the Toxic Tort and Property Insurance sections, so hopefully attendance will be good.  Additionally, I am scheduling a section telephone conference for Tuesday, June 26th at 9 a.m.  A calendar invite with call information will be sent today.  Please join the call if your schedule permits. 


Energy-Utilities Purpose Statement: To informatively connect Federation members engaged in the representation or service of energy-sector clients.


Next Meeting: 2018 Annual Meeting, Maui, July 29-August 3, 2018. 


Upcoming Section Meeting: Tuesday, July 31 at 7:00 a.m. The Energy Utilities Section is partnering with the Toxic Tort and Property Insurance sections for a combined presentation.  The introduction to the article that we’ve prepared for the section meeting is excerpted below.     


Energy Section Topic (Maui):  Washed Away: What Hurricane Harvey Wrought and What It Left Behind


Hurricane Harvey started as a weak tropical storm over the Lesser Antilles and hit Texas as a Category 4 storm on August 26, 2017. At least 68 people died as a direct result of the storm, which also caused $125 billion in damage according to the National Hurricane Center. That is more than any other natural disaster in U.S history except Hurricane Katrina.


Harvey made landfall three times in six days.[1] It caused statistically incredible damage.  At its peak on September 1, 2017, one-third of Houston was underwater.[2] Two feet of rain fell in the first 24 hours. Harvey spawned 57 tornadoes, half of which occurred in or near the Houston metro area.[3]  Flooding forced 40,000 people out of their homes and into shelters.  As of September 5, 2017, Hurricane Harvey had flooded 300,000 structures, including 203,000 homes.  Finally, FEMA reported 30,000 water rescues were conducted during Harvey.[4]  


Much of Harvey's damage came from massive rainfall. It was the most significant tropical cyclone rain in United States history since reliable records began in the 1880s.[5]  Harvey created a 1-in-1,000-year flood event, which can be reasonably interpreted to mean that nothing of its size has happened within modern recorded history.[6] Flooding covered southeast Texas the size of the state of New Jersey. Thirty inches of rain fell on an area near the coast the size of the state of Maryland.  Total rainfall hit 60.58 inches near Nederland, Texas directly southeast of Beaumont.[7]  That was a record for a single storm in the continental United States.[8]          

 

In the Texas Gulf Coast area, 1 million vehicles were ruined beyond repair, according to auto data firm Black Book. That includes 300,000 to 500,000 vehicles owned by individuals.  Harvey also flooded 800 wastewater treatment facilities and 13 Superfund sites. That spread sewage and toxic chemicals into the flooded areas.  Harvey’s destruction left in its path not only human loss and massive property damage, but also a wake of litigation that will continue for years.

 

Part One of this paper, written by Barbara Barron, focuses on the environmental impacts reported in the greater Houston area, how the government and businesses have responded, the current state of litigation concerning the environmental impacts, and practical considerations for defense counsel and their clients to preparing for and defend against those claims. 


Part Two of the paper, written by Neil Rambin and Matt Sapp, addresses property damage and insurance coverage issues.  Harvey affected thousands of businesses.  In the aftermath, myriad insurance issues have arisen, including many business interruption claims under property insurance policies.  These claims often include interruptions due to direct physical damage to the insured’s own property, property loss that sidelines a major supplier or customer base, ingress/egress blockages, and civil authority orders affecting access to the business.


Part Three of the paper, written by Deron Wade, reviews how refineries and petrochemical plants along the Texas Gulf Coast implemented lessons learned from the Hurricane Katrina disaster to avoid similar catastrophes during and after Hurricane Harvey. 

 

Disasters seem to be more prevalent than ever.  Kilauea is erupting, record earthquakes have been occurring, and a highly active hurricane season is predicted. The following discussion is vital to FDCC members to be prepared for the legal challenges that accompany disaster when it comes calling.



 

January 2018
Submitted by: Deron L. Wade

 

Happy New Year 2018, Energy Utility Section Members!  I hope everyone had a great holiday season and is enjoying a good start to 2018.  We are six weeks away from Amelia Island, which should be a wonderful meeting.  Just a reminder, our own Ed Ruff’s joint presentation with Joyce Wang of the Property Section has been set for Wednesday, February 28th at 7:45 a.m.  Please add this to your schedule of activities for the Winter Meeting, we would love a large turnout to hear Ed and Joyce.


Energy-Utilities Purpose Statement:
To informatively connect Federation members engaged in the representation or service of energy-sector clients.


Next Meeting:
2018 Winter Meeting, Amelia Island, February 24-28, 2018.


Upcoming Section Presentation:
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 7:45 a.m. The Energy Utilities Section is partnering with the Property Insurance Section for a combined section presentation at the Amelia Island meeting.  Energy Utilities member Ed Ruff of Chicago will co-present with Property Insurance member Joyce Wang of San Francisco to discuss the litigation and property insurance aspects of a crude oil vessel explosion lawsuit that Ed is trying later this year.  Ed will present the key litigation aspects of the case, including the types of claims presented, causation, expert issues, and the trial result.  Joyce will focus on the property insurance issues such as identification of insureds and insurable interests, fortuitous loss and time element implications, and potentially applicable exclusion will round out the presentation.

 


January Energy Topic:
The most significant news for U.S. energy companies in the last month was the Trump Administration’s proposal on January 4, 2018 to sell offshore drilling leases for virtually all coastal regions of the United States.  Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke released a Draft Proposed Program that includes 47 potential lease sales which would comprise over 90 percent of the total Outer Continental Shelf acreage available for future exploration and development.  Currently, 94 percent of OCS acreage is off limits to exploration and drilling activities.  The proposed program listed 19 potential lease sales off the coast of Alaska, 7 in the Pacific Region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and 9 in the Atlantic Region.  In other words, the DPP would open up nearly all of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf for oil and gas exploration. Notably, there have been no lease sales in the Atlantic since 1983 and there are no existing leases.  Likewise, the majority of the eastern Gulf of Mexico has not been available for leasing since 1988.    

 

The National OCS Leasing Program operates on a 5-year cycle, and the proposed DPP would run from 2019-2024.  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released the below maps identifying the specific, proposed lease areas and sale years:








Not surprisingly, the proposal to open virtually all U.S. coastal regions to energy exploration has been met with strong opposition.  The State of Florida quickly mobilized its opposition, which prompted the Department of Interior on January 9th to issue an exemption for Florida coastal waters.  Further bipartisan criticism has come from state officials and private citizens from virtually every other coastal state, including loud dissent from officials in the Carolinas, Virginia, and California.  The DPP and the related Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement will be published in the Federal Register and open for public comment through March 18, 2018. 






December 2017

Submitted by: Deron L. Wade

 

 

Greetings, EU Section Members!  I hope you are all enjoying a great end of year and preparing for the holiday season.  As we wind up 2017, please take a moment to review the Energy Utilities Section update.  As mentioned last month, we have updated the content and format of the eNewsletter submission.  We welcome your input and suggestions, as well as you would like to see included.   

 

Energy-Utilities Purpose Statement:

 To informatively connect Federation members engaged in the representation or service of energy-sector clients.

 

Next Meeting:

 2018 Winter Meeting, Amelia Island, February 24-28, 2018

 

Upcoming Section Presentation:

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 7:45 a.m.  The Energy Utilities Section is partnering with the Property Insurance Section for a combined section presentation at the Amelia Island meeting.  Energy Utilities member Ed Ruff of Chicago will co-present with Property Insurance member Joyce Wang of San Francisco to discuss the litigation and property insurance aspects of a crude oil vessel explosion lawsuit that Ed is trying later this year.  Ed will present the key litigation aspects of the case, including the types of claims presented, causation, expert issues, and the trial result.  Joyce will focus on the property insurance issues such as identification of insureds and insurable interests, fortuitous loss and time element implications, and potentially applicable exclusion will round out the presentation.    

 

 

December Energy Topic:

The American shale-fracking revolution continues to reverberate in markets and geopolitical decisions around the world.  Most recently, commentators have discussed two keys issues.  First, investors in U.S. shale producers are taking a harder line towards energy producers who are producing enormous quantities of oil and gas but very little profit.  Since 2007, energy companies have spent $280 billion more than they have returned on shale operations.  Twelve major investors met in New York in September with a common message:  shale-oil-and-gas companies need to start producing a return for their investors.  The  investors want to see production reduced and more tightly controlled, which should lead to higher, stable prices per barrel.  Andardarko Petroleum Corp., for one, has taken steps to respond to shareholder frustration.  The company recently announced a $2.5 billion stock buyback, and also changed executive compensation metrics to reward profitability over growth fueled through debt or issuing additional stock.  The message to producers is growth for the sake of growth is less important now than returning a profit to investors.

 

The second, related topic is the wealth-draining effect U.S. shale-fracking has had on Arab states in the Middle East.  With the United States’ recent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Middle East observers have commented on the low-key, almost obligatory nature of the protests.  In part, the muted response from oil-producing Arab states such as Saudi Arabia underlies a recognition that Israel now represents a strong defense against Iranian hegemony.  OPEC countries have felt the withering effects of low oil prices for several years.  The U.S.-led shale revolution broke OPEC’s grip on the oil market, which has led to decreased Arab power along with the loss trillions of dollars of oil revenues.  A diminished Arab ability to project influence and force in the region provides an opening for Iran, which has long had expansive territorial ambitions.  And Israel, which is not nearly as oil revenue dependent as its Arab neighbors, provides the best shield against Persian aggression.   

 


 

 

November 2017

Submitted by: Deron L. Wade

 

  

We have updated the content and format of the Energy and Utilities Section newsletter submission.  Going forward, the monthly newsletter will provide updates regarding upcoming section activities, profile a section member, and also include energy-specific content that will hopefully be useful and informative.  We welcome your input and suggestions regarding the eNewsletter submissions and any information you would like to see included.   

 

 

Energy-Utilities Purpose Statement:

To informatively connect Federation members engaged in the representation or service of energy-sector clients.

 

 

Next Meeting:

2018 Winter Meeting, Amelia Island, February 24-28, 2018

 

 

 

Upcoming Section Presentation:

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 7:45 a.m.  The Energy Utilities Section is partnering with the Property Insurance Section for a combined section presentation at the Amelia Island meeting.  Energy Utilities member Ed Ruff of Chicago will co-present with Property Insurance member Joyce Wang of San Francisco to discuss the

litigation and property insurance aspects of a crude oil vessel explosion lawsuit that Ed is trying later this year.  Ed will present the key litigation aspects of the case, including the types of claims presented, causation, expert issues, and the trial result.  Joyce will focus on the property insurance issues such as identification of insureds and insurable interests, fortuitous loss and time element implications, and potentially applicable exclusion will round out the presentation. 

 

 

 

Member Profile:

This month we feature prominent Chicago trial attorney Ed Ruff, who will represent the section for our substantive law presentation at the 2018 Winter Meeting.

 

Ed is an equity partner and a shareholder with Pretzel & Stouffer, Chartered. He is a member of the firm’s executive committee, which he has chaired on several occasions. He has tried over seventy cases to verdict, in the areas of product liability, mass tort, commercial litigation, fire loss, bad faith, intellectual property and professional negligence. He has served as lead counsel in a number of multi-district litigation matters, including Stand ’n Seal “Spray-On” Grout Sealer, Menu Foods and Pedicle Screws, developing a reputation for handling matters on a national basis. He successfully defended the former president of the New York Stock Exchange in a $300 million commercial fraud claim.

 

Ed’s experience and reputation have earned him the highest rating from Martindale-Hubbell, as well as selection as an Illinois Super Lawyer, by his peers, since its inception. He has written numerous publications and has lectured for the Illinois State Bar Association, DRI, the FDCC and the Illinois Association of Defense Counsel. Ed speaks on a variety of topics related to product liability safety, fire and casualty, multidistrict litigation and jury trials, and has been an instructor for the FDCC Litigation Management College numerous times.

 

Ed earned his JD from DePaul University (1981). He is currently admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court, Illinois & Wisconsin Supreme Courts and multiple U.S. District Courts.

 

Ed is also a mechanical engineer with a background in heat transfer engineering. He enjoys fishing, hunting and bike riding with his wife.

 

 

 

Energy Sector Monthly Fact:

U.S energy consumption by source, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration

 

 

 

 

September 2017

 

The Energy and Utilities Section is pleased to announce it will partner with the Property Insurance Section for a combined section presentation at the Amelia Island meeting in February 2018.  Energy Utilities member Ed Ruff of Chicago will co-present with Property Insurance member Joyce Wang of San Francisco to discuss the litigation and property insurance aspects of a crude oil vessel explosion lawsuit that Ed is trying later this year.  Ed will present the key litigation aspects of the case, including the types of claims presented, causation, expert issues, and the trial result.  Joyce will focus on the property insurance issues such as identification of insureds and insurable interests, fortuitous loss and time element implications, and potentially applicable exclusion will round out the presentation.  The specific date of the presentation has not yet been set, but the sections look forward to a large audience of Federation members to hear this multi-faceted, exciting discussion!

 

 

 

JULY 2107

 

2017 Annual Meeting  - The long anticipated 2017 Annual Meeting in Montreux, Switzerland is only a few weeks away.  For those fortunate section members who will be going to Montreux, I hope you can join Section Vice Chair Ryan Beckett for a section fellowship lunch at noon on Thursday, July 26 at the Montreux Jazz Café, conveniently located in the conference hotel.  Please contact Ryan at Ryan.Beckett@butlersnow.com if you can join him.  We have shamelessly promoted the program “Walking the Tightrope: Balancing the Defense in a War on Multiple Fronts” featuring section members Bruce Parkerson and Michael O’Connor in our last two e-newsletters, so I will only add that this will be a fascinating program not be missed.

 

2018 Winter Meeting –  Alas, we cannot rest on our laurels regarding section presentations. In fact, we are a little behind in planning a presentation for the 2018 Winter Meeting which will be held on Amelia Island from 2/24-28. Please share any suggestions you may have for a presentation topic.  In response to feedback from FDCC members, the meeting will be shorter than usual, which hopefully will allow more people to attend.  For those members with flexible schedules, there will be a unique opportunity to travel to Cuba when the meeting ends.  More to come on that.

 

Other Meetings – There are two other upcoming meetings worth noting.  The 14th Annual Corporate Counsel Symposium will take place from 9/17-19 at the Hotel Sofitel in Philadelphia.  The theme of this year’s conference is “A World View: How Corporate Counsel Understand Risk”.  We encourage defense counsel members to invite a client to attend.  The following month, the Insurance Industry Institute “I3” meeting will be held in at the Sheraton Hotel in New York on 11/9-10.   The theme of this bi-annual meeting is “Tapping Into Insurance Insights”.  I will be participating on a panel entitled “Major Claims=Major Challenges”, which will explore the insurer, policyholder and broker perspectives on the special challenges posed by coverage defenses in the face of catastrophic claims.

 

Other Section News - My two-year term as section chair is ending.  It has been a pleasure to help launch this section and to work with section members, which has afforded me the opportunity to make new FDCC friends in the process.  I believe this section has lots of potential, which I am confident will be achieved under the leadership of incoming chair Deron Wade.

 

For those traveling to Montreux, bon voyage and a happy summer to all!

 

 

JUNE 2017

 

Energy Section Member Michael O’Connor co-presenter in Montreaux!

 

Following last month’s update about Federation member Bruce Parkerson, the Energy Utilities section wanted to focus on Bruce’s co-presenter, section member Michael J. O’Connor.  Michael is the Associate General Manager/Chief Legal Executive for Salt River Project, the country’s third largest public power entity with nearly 6,000 employees.  SRP provides power and water to a large portion of the Phoenix metropolitan area.  Michael joined SRP in 2011 and is responsible for the company’s Legal, Human Resources, Land, and Risk Management Departments.  He was previously a partner Jennings Strouss in Phoenix, and is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers as well as FDCC.  Michael and his wife, Michelle, have four adult children.   

 

Michael and Bruce will be co-presenters for a fascinating look at the difficulties of defending a company embroiled in litigation on multiple fronts arising out of the same incident.  On September 9, 2010, a 30-inch high pressure natural gas pipeline owned and operated by Pacific Gas & Electric ruptured and exploded in San Bruno, California, about 11 miles from San Francisco.  As explained more fully in the presentation and associated white paper, the pipeline rupture immediately released pressurized natural gas into a residential area and was instantly ignited.  The resulting conflagration was devastating.  38 nearby homes were destroyed and 70 others damaged; 600 firefighting personnel responded to the scene; and 300 homes were evacuated.  Eight people were killed from the blast or fire, and 58 others were injured.  In all, 47.6 million cubic feet of gas was released from the ruptured pipe before gas flow was cut off. 

 

“Walking the Tightrope: Balancing the Defense in a War on Multiple Fronts” explores the conflicts and complex challenges PG&E dealt with as it was forced to defend hundreds of civil lawsuits and claims, while at the same time being the subject of intense inquiries by several regulatory agencies at the state and federal level. Federal criminal charges were brought against PG&E in the Northern District of California, which ultimately resulted in the company’s conviction on several counts. The presentation and paper also examine the difficulties inherent in fighting multiple battles on multiple fronts, arising from the same set of circumstances, where each action in any context is likely to affect the defense in the others.

 

Please join Michael and Bruce in Montreaux for this exciting discussion! 

 

MAY 2017

 

Energy Section Member Bruce Parkerson to Present in Montreaux!

 

New Orleans attorney and Federation member Bruce Parkerson will be part of a presentation that addresses many of the difficult and conflicting legal issues that resulted from a pipeline explosion in San Bruno, CA on September 9, 2010.  The presentation,“Walking the Tightrope: Balancing the Defense in a War on Multiple Fronts”, addresses the legal challenges that Pacific Gas & Electric dealt with as it was forced to defend hundreds of civil lawsuits and claims, while at the same time being the subject of intense inquiries by several regulatory agencies at the state and federal level. Federal criminal charges were brought against PG&E in the Northern District of California, which ultimately resulted in the company’s conviction on several counts. The presentation will also explore the difficulties inherent in fighting multiple battles on multiple fronts, arising from the same set of circumstances, where each action in any context is likely to affect the defense in the others.

 

Bruce is an American College trial lawyer, Super Lawyer, and a Best Lawyer in America in the areas of commercial litigation and products liability.  He frequently represents natural gas pipeline operators in many states throughout the South and Southwest, and has served as lead counsel in trials of complex cases involving fires and explosions, natural gas leaks, carbon monoxide poisoning, and alleged toxic exposure to odorant.  Bruce has tried more than 40 cases to verdict and is a frequent speaker at conferences sponsored by natural gas industry associations. 

 

 

 

In his free time, Bruce loves to be outdoors and enjoys hiking.  He is hoping to find a trail in Switzerland as beautiful as a hike he and his wife recently enjoyed in Whistler, British Columbia.









APRIL 2017

 

Energy Utilities Section Members Helped Energize the 2017 Winter Meeting!

 

Energy Utility Section members enthusiastically descended on Charleston in early March for the annual Winter Meeting. In addition to delighting in the beautiful weather, captivating architecture, and savory Low Country cuisine that highlighted the week, section members also enjoyed two particularly memorable events. The first was a well-attended ‘dine around’ dinner on March 7th at Hank’s, the Charleston seafood institution. Section Chair Marjorie Berger and her husband, Dr. David Rowe, led a contingent of 14 section members, spouses, and special guests through a multi-course evening that saw Hank’s favorites and specials paired with several richly complex Napa vintages. Australian member Chris Rodd and his wife, Susan Davis, M.D., traveled farthest to join the group, which also included panelists Bryony Hodges of SCANA and B. Don Russell, Ph.D. of Texas A&M University. The dinner underscored a wonderful benefit of FDCC membership, the opportunity to share observations and experiences on wide-ranging subjects with other members from around the country and the world.

The ‘dine around’ evening was followed early the next morning by a panel discussion co-sponsored by the Energy Utilities Section about current and future cyber-security threats to the U.S. power grid. James Kelly, a corporate member from Chubb, joined Ms. Hodges, Dr. Russell, and moderator Michael Aylward in providing complementary perspectives about the security and vulnerabilities of the U.S. grid. Dr. Russell shared insights from his decades of experience as an electric power engineer, researcher, professor, and industry expert. He described how digital modernization of SCADA systems has actually created more cyber-security vulnerabilities than existed with legacy systems from the 1960s and ‘70s. Older, legacy systems generally were not networked or otherwise susceptible to remote access by unauthorized users, whether that be a terrorist, state actor, or prideful hacker. As a result, the ability of an unauthorized user to cause a widespread outage was very limited. But even today, it is not easy or quick for a hacker to attempt to shut down portions of the grid. Bryony Hodges picked up from Dr. Russell and explained in general terms the types of safeguards and security practices electric power industry companies may use to protect their systems from unauthorized users. Jim Kelly concluded the presentation by sharing yet another perspective, which involves how the insurance industry makes cyber-security risk assessments and develops coverages for their insureds. Jim offered fascinating insight about the difficulties presented during forensic investigation of cyber-security breaches, the resulting implications for loss coverage and reservation of rights. Mike Aylward kept the panelists focused and helped frame the hour-long discussion through his introduction and questions. In sum, the panel presentation was topical, informative, and very well-attended.

more Calendar

3/24/2019 » 3/28/2019
2019 FDCC Winter Meeting - Austin, Texas

Featured Members
Charles MeyerO'Hagan Meyer, PLLC, Richmond, VA

Special Thanks

Membership Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal