LEGISLATIVE

United States v. Keystone Biofuels, No. 1:17-CR-00143, 2018 WL 6190358 (M.D. Pa. Nov. 28, 2018): On May 3, 2017, the Government charged Ben Wootton, Race Miner, and Keystone Biofuels in a seven count Indictment, alleging that Wootton, Miner, and Keystone conspired to commit a criminal offense. On January 24, 2018, the Government filed a nine-count Superseding Indictment, the operative indictment in this case. In Count 1, the Government charged that, between August 13, 2009 and September 24, 2013, Wootton, Miner, and Keystone conspired to falsify or conceal a material fact or make materially false or fraudulent statements to the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). According to the Government, Wootton, Miner, and Keystone unlawfully generated over sixteen million biodiesel Renewable Identification Numbers (“RINs”) through the EPA’s online Moderated Transaction System, knowing that the biodiesel for which these RINs were being generated did not meet the standards established by the American Society of Testing and Materials provision D6751 (“ASTM D6751”) as required by EPA regulations. These RINs were then traded or sold pursuant to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, generating in excess of $10 million for Wootton, Miner, and Keystone. As overt acts in furtherance of this conspiracy, the Government cited emails between unindicted co-conspirators, Wootton, and Miner which indicated that samples of Keystone’s biodiesel had failed testing for conformity with ASTM D6751, as well as certificates signed by Wootton which certified that the biodiesel for which Keystone had generated the RINs conformed to ATSM D6751. Relatedly, in Counts 3 through 8 of the Superseding Indictment, the Government alleged that the codefendants’ false statements to the EPA directly violated 18 U.S.C. § 1001, the predicate crime underlying the conspiracy charge.  The Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss was denied.

HERBERT R. PUTZ, Plaintiff, v. ATMOS ENERGY CORPORATION, Defendant., No. 3:17-CV-03280-G (BT), 2018 WL 6202128 (N.D. Tex. Nov. 2, 2018), report and recommendation adopted, No. 3:17-CV-3280-G (BT), 2018 WL 6199393 (N.D. Tex. Nov. 28, 2018); Plaintiff Herbert R. Putz owns certain real property located in Delta County, Texas, subject to various easements owned by Atmos.  The easement agreements (the “Agreements”) between the parties allegedly grant Atmos a right of way for repairing and replacing gas pipelines on Putz’s land and further provide that Atmos is responsible to Putz for any damage to his growing crops caused by the “construction, maintenance, and operation” of the pipelines. Additionally, the Agreements provide that any damages not mutually agreed upon by the parties shall be resolved through arbitration.

In 2013, Atmos performed pipeline repair which allegedly damaged Putz’s crops and farmland.  As a result, Putz attempted to recover damages under the Agreements. Counsel for the parties participated in an arbitration proceeding and reached a settlement, but the settlement agreement was not acceptable to Putz. Accordingly, Putz withdrew from the settlement and filed this lawsuit “To Compel Defendant To Appoint Their ‘Disinterested Person’ To Proceed With The Alternative Dispute Resolution Stipulated In The Easement Agreements.”

Atmos responded by filing a motion to dismiss the case pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6). Putz filed a response.  The court determined that is lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, and dismissed.

REGULATORY:

Notice: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.; This notice advises the public of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s record of decision for the final environmental impact statement titled “Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program—Tick Control Barrier: Maverick, Starr, Webb, and Zapata Counties, Texas.” Info HERE

Final rule: Office of the Secretary, USDA; The Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to delegate functions, powers, and duties as the Secretary deems appropriate. This document amends the existing delegations of authority by adding and modifying certain delegations, as explained in the Supplementary Information section below. Info HERE

LEGISLATIVE:

H.R. 6784: Manage our Wolves Act
To provide for removal of the gray wolf in the contiguous 48 States from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife published under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.; IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES November 26, 2018 Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. Info HERE

H.R. 3588: RED SNAPPER Act
To amend the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to provide for management of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, and for other purposes. Info HERE

H.R. 3608: Endangered Species Transparency and Reasonableness Act
To amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to require publication on the Internet of the basis for determinations that species are endangered species or threatened species, and for other purposes. Info HERE

H.R. 6678: Claude Moore Farm Land Conveyance Act
To direct the Secretary of the Interior to convey certain National Park Service land in Fairfax County, Virginia, to the Friends of the Claude Moore Farm. Info HERE

On the Nomination PN889: Stephen Alexander Vaden, of Tennessee, to be General Counsel of the Department of Agriculture, Confirmed.  Info HERE