Energy, Environmental, Mining and Transportation

Advise a large, multistate electric and gas utility client on environmental and real estate issues pertaining to transactions in multiple states. This includes proposed sale transactions for contaminated property, including due diligence and liability allocation. We also represent the company before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies on remediation of contaminated property, obtaining terms that limit the company’s liability for cleanup costs. We represent the company on matters in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Wyoming.

Represented Great Plains Natural Gas Co., a division of MDU Resources Group, Inc., in a contested case proceeding before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission regarding Great Plains’ application seeking to increase rates for gas distribution service in Minnesota.

Represent the subsidiary of a global Fortune 300 company in connection with a complex contaminated site in Missouri. Scope of representation includes permitting; negotiating favorable remedy selection with environmental agency; counseling client on remedy implementation and permit compliance; cleanup contractor arrangements; site team coordination.

Represented Soo Line Railroad Company, d/b/a Canadian Pacific, in an action to quiet title to the mineral rights associated with certain sections of its railroad right-of-way in Mountrail County, North Dakota. In 2014, the district court issued a summary judgment order holding that the nearly 100-year-old deeds at issue in the case granted only easement interests to CP and, thus, did not convey any mineral interests. We assisted CP in appealing that decision, and in 2015 the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed in CP’s favor, holding that six of the seven deeds granted fee simple interests, including mineral rights, to CP and vacating the lower court’s adverse decision on the seventh deed for further proceedings.

We assisted Starwood Energy Group in negotiating International Swaps and Derivatives Association Master Agreements with several swap/commodity dealers for transactions in physical electric power and natural gas and related derivatives.  These agreements will enable Starwood to sell, purchase, and hedge the output and fuel supply needs of its power plants. We also assisted Starwood Energy Group in negotiating energy management agreements and related ISDA Master Agreements for a portfolio of power plants with an aggregate generation capacity in excess of 900 megawatts.  These agreements provide for comprehensive management of the capacity, energy and fuel supply of these gas-fired plants (which operate in various regional electricity markets) by a contracted energy manager.

Jonathan Schneider serves as general regulatory counsel for the Large Public Power Council, the trade association representing the largest state and municipally owned utilities in the nation,  in matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. LPPC is the trade association that comprises the 26 largest state and municipal utilities in the nation. Matters include all general federal energy rulemakings applicable to electric utilities in the nation.

We represent a chemical distribution company in federal and state agency investigations of properties in several states, involving alleged non-compliance with risk management planning and recordkeeping; and in investigations of alleged soil and groundwater contamination from activities on company property. We helped guide an internal investigation through record review, interviews and historic document research. We also assisted our client with enhanced training and compliance programs related to environmental, health and safety, and other regulatory inspections and oversight.

We assisted the Duluth Seaway Port Authority with the preparation and adoption of an addendum to its environmental policy that will guide the port authority’s future purchase, remediation, redevelopment and sale of contaminated properties or “brownfields.”

The Bonneville Power Administration is one of the nation’s largest transmission owners and one of its largest marketers of electric energy. Every two years it holds a major proceeding to revise its rates for the sale and transmission of electricity.  In its latest proceeding, BPA’s staff has proposed to triple the rate BPA charges for hourly transmission service on its Southern Intertie, a facility linking the Pacific Northwest to markets in California. Stinson attorneys Harvey Reiter and Glen Ortman have been representing the Sacramento Municipal Utility District in opposing the rate increase—helping to put together the case against the rate increase, cross-examining the BPA witnesses and submitting briefs to the agency.  A decision on the case is expected in late July 2017.