Articles Posted in Energy, Oil & Gas Law

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NV Energy owns and operates electricity-generating plants in Nevada. NV Energy fueled two of those plants with coal obtained from mines outside Nevada and paid a use tax for its coal consumption pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 372.185. NV Energy petitioned the State Department of Taxation for a refund for the use taxes it paid on coal purchased over a four-year period, arguing that the Nev. Rev. Stat. 372.270 exemption from the use tax for locally produced mine and mineral proceeds discriminates against interstate commerce in violation of the dormant Commerce Clause. The district court concluded that the exemption violated the Commerce Clause and struck the statute in its entirety but refused to award NV Energy any refund. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 372.270 is not severable; and (2) because NV Energy did not have any competitors who received the tax benefit, the tax scheme did not actually discriminate against interstate commerce, and therefore, NV Energy was not entitled to a refund. View "Sierra Pac. Power Co. v. State, Dep’t of Taxation" on Justia Law

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This appeal was taken from a district court order in a quiet title action. While the appeal was pending, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) declared twenty-seven unpatented mining claims asserted by Appellant forfeit and void by operation of law because Appellant failed to comply with the statutory mining claim maintenance requirement. Consequently, Respondent filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, arguing that the appeal was rendered moot when the BLM declared Appellant's asserted claims forfeit and void. The Supreme Court granted the motion to dismiss, holding that the appeal was moot because the controversy that existed at the beginning of this litigation concerning superior title was no longer at issue, and Appellant's claims did not exist as a matter of law. View "Majuba Mining, Ltd. v. Pumpkin Copper, Inc." on Justia Law

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This case arose out of the recent energy crisis. Appellants alleged that Respondents, in violation of Nevada antitrust laws, conspired with the now-defunct Enron Corporation to drive up the price of natural gas in the Southern Nevada and Southeastern California markets. Appellants asserted (1) Respondents engaged in rapid bursts of purchasing natural gas followed by rapid bursts of selling the same gas, which resulted in considerable profits for Respondents and significantly higher prices for natural gas consumers; and (2) Respondents' plan for manipulating the markets worked because of a secret agreement with Enron that left Respondents with greater profits from the sale of gas as well as ensured that Respondents would always have a sufficient supply of natural gas. The district court ultimately dismissed the case, holding that the claims were barred by principles of federal preemption. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellants' claims were barred by federal field preemption. View "State v. Reliant Energy, Inc." on Justia Law

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Confronting a statewide budget crisis, the Nevada Legislature undertook several revenue-adjustment and cost cutting measures in an effort to balance the State's budget. Those measures were codified in Assembly Bill 6 (AB 6). In this appeal, the Supreme Court was asked whether parts of AB 6 violated the Nevada Constitution. The disputed section of the bill applied only to Appellant Clean Water Coalition (CWC), and converted money collected as user fees into a tax. The CWC used moneys it collected from households and businesses to implement the Systems Conveyance and Operations Program (SCOP) which involved the planning, design, financing, construction, operation and maintenance of a regional system to convey effluent from existing and future wastewater treatment facilities to its outfall in the Colorado River system. The CWC collected fees from 2002 until 2010. SCOP was tabled, and the funds collected for the wastewater facilities were transferred to the State's General Fund. M Resort and other businesses that had paid the fees sued the State, challenging the conversion of the CWC fees into what they argued was essentially a special tax. "Special taxes" are prohibited by the state constitution. The Supreme Court held that because AB 6 "burdens only the CWC in its efforts to raise revenue for the state, it is an impermissible local and special tax" under the state constitution. The Court found AB 6 unconstitutional.