Shale Insight 2017: AG Panel Reflects Contrast in Enforcement Approaches; Criminal Exposures from Civil Litigation
On September 27, 2017, I participated on the panel, "Managing Attorney General Investigations: Increased State Environmental Enforcement and How You Can Survive," at the Shale Insight 2017 conference in Pittsburgh, PA. The panel included Molly Corey, Assistant Attorney General from the Ohio AG Office and Jeff Landry, the Attorney General for the State of Louisiana. My partner Terry Bossert, who chairs our firm's Shale Resource group, moderated.
My partner Michael C. Gross from our Environmental Group recently authored a short response piece to accompany the article, "Time for Environmental Crimes,â€ by Rena Steinzor in the March/April issue of The Environmental Forum, the magazine of the nonpartisan Environmental Law Institute.
Post & Schell's Environmental and White Collar Groups examine how the recent VW emissions scandal comes at a time when the DOJ's intention to prosecute high-level executives for corporate wrongdoing, as outlined in the Yates Memo, may face its first true test.
An August 13, 2015 decision of a FERC Administrative Law Judge held that BP America Inc.engaged in market manipulation during a two and a half month period in violation of the Natural Gas Act and FERC regulations. The initial decision, which is subject to Commission review and eventual court appeal, marks another â€œcase of physical for financial benefits" the sort of "cross-over" case involving both physical and financial energy markets that has been at the heart of questions over FERC's jurisdiction, which traditionally extends only to physical trading.
In the lead article for the July 2015 issue of Business Crimes Bulletin, Internal Investigations & White Collar Defense Chair Ronald H. Levine, and Environmental Principal Michael C. Gross, review recent environmental prosecutions and offer best practice tips for responding to civil investigations and avoiding criminal prosecution.
The article, in the April 2015 issue of Public Utilities Fortnightly, examines U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) policing of fraud and market manipulation in energy markets, and notes that, "between 2007 and the end of 2014...FERC assessed civil penalties of $602 million and ordered disgorgement totaling almost $300 million."
According to the Pennsylvania Attorney General's criminal complaint (click here to download), Exxon Mobil subsidiary XTO Energy was producing natural gas from two wells; the wells released toxic waste water to be stored in holding tanks; and, in November 2010, a state inspector found that the drain plugs were missing from 5 - 10 tanks which discharged about 57,000 gallons of waste water into the ground or a stream.