Articles Posted in Energy, Oil & Gas Law

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The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review centered on the standard of liability for violations of two provisions of the hazardous waste laws: 40 CFR section 263.20(a)(1), as adopted by OAR 340-100-0002(1), and ORS 466.095(1)(c). The Department of Environmental Quality (the department) assessed civil penalties against petitioner, Oil Re-Refining Company (ORRCO), after it determined that ORRCO had accepted hazardous waste without a proper manifest form and treated hazardous waste without a proper permit. ORRCO conceded the factual basis for those allegations but asserted a reasonable-reliance defense: namely, that it reasonably relied on assurances by the generator of the waste that the material ORRCO transported and treated was not a hazardous waste, and, therefore, did not require the manifest and permit at issue. The Environmental Quality Commission (the commission) refused to consider ORRCO’s defense, because it interpreted the relevant provisions as imposing a strict liability standard. The Court of Appeals agreed with the commission’s interpretations and affirmed its final order finding various violations and imposing civil penalties. On appeal to the Supreme Court ORRCO argued that the commission should have considered its reasonable reliance defense and that the commission had erred in interpreting the relevant provisions as imposing a standard of strict liability. The Supreme Court rejected ORRCO’s argument because it ignored statutory and regulatory context indicating that a transporter’s or operator’s level of culpability is immaterial to establishing a violation of the relevant provisions. View "Oil Re-Refining Co. v. Environmental Quality Comm." on Justia Law

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Portland General Electric Company (PGE) appealed a Court of Appeals decision that reversed and remanded a trial court order that denied Lexington Insurance Company's motion to set aside a default judgment entered in PGE's favor. Specifically, the issues were: (1) whether a default judgment awarding monetary relief violated ORCP 67C if the complaint did not specify amount of damages sought; and (2) if so, whether that omission rendered the judgment voidable or void. The Supreme Court held the judgment in question here did not violate ORCP 67C and that the judgment was not void. The case was remanded to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings. View "PGE v. Ebasco Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The issue presented to the Supreme Court in this case was the appeal of a final order of the Energy Facility Siting Council that approved an amended site certificate for construction of a wind energy facility. Specifically, the issue was whether, in approving the amended site certificate, the council correctly declined to require compliance with a recently adopted county ordinance requiring a two-mile setback between wind turbines and rural residences pursuant to ORS 469.401(2). Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the council did not err in not requiring compliance with the ordinance. Furthermore, the Court concluded that the council did not err in denying petitioners' requests for a contested case proceeding. Therefore the council's final order approving the amended site certificate was affirmed. View "Blue Mountain Alliance v. Energy Facility Siting" on Justia Law