Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Energy Company To Allow Upstate New York Landowners To Renegotiate Natural Gas Leases

Following an investigation by New York State, Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C. will allow over 4,400 landowners who were locked into potentially unfavorable natural gas leases the opportunity to renegotiate with the energy company.

Chesapeake is does business in upstate New York for natural gas exploration and extraction from lands in the area.

As part of the June 14 agreement, Chesapeake has agreed that landowners with leases that were extended because of the Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) environmental review into high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," have the right to negotiate leases with other gas companies for more favorable terms.

The agreement includes leases that have expired or will expire prior to December 31, 2013.

Chesapeake had tried to extend the leases in 2009, claiming the state’s environmental review on shale gas development constituted an uncontrollable event that allows for a lease extension if an “act of god” or unforeseen circumstance prevents drilling.

The June 14 agreement allows landowners, who were under Chesapeake's force majeure contract claims, to be released.

In addition to the state’s review, a number of local communities in New York State have adopted moratoriums, temporarily prohibiting the practice in their towns, until a full environmental or zoning review is completed.

Supporters of fracking see the potential for energy independence, new jobs and potential income for landowners. Opponents fear the process could cause environmental catastrophe.

Chesapeake admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New York bill to protect against out of state robocalls

New York State residents may soon have new safeguards against intrusive telemarketing calls.

The New York State Senate gave final legislative passage on Wednesday (June 13) to a bill that protects New Yorkers from unwanted telemarketing practices. The bill regulates all telemarketers who do business in New York, wherever they may be located, and adds new consumer protections from telemarketers’ robocalls. The legislation has also passed the state assembly.

The bill creates new regulations for out of state telemarketers who call New York residents. Previously, out of state telemarketers could continue to do business in the state and not be subject to civil and criminal penalties established for violations of the state’s existing law.

The legislation would also prohibit prerecorded telemarketing calls, also known as robocalls, without the recipient's express written consent, and require that prerecorded calls provide an opt-out mechanism to allow recipients to automatically add their phone number to the telemarketer's do-not-call list and then terminate the call.

The bill will be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo. In a written statement, Cuomo appeared to support the bill, saying that the legislation was a “big win for the people of New York State.”

The complete text of the proposed law can be found here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

New York’s highest court issues new decisions

The New York State Court of Appeals has issued a number of new decisions this week on several important issues in civil and criminal law.

Among the cases, the state’s high court ruled on the following issues:

• whether the Family Court may direct continuing contact between a jailed parent and his child once parental rights have been terminated due to permanent neglect;
• whether the trial court’s error in denying a criminal defendant's requests for a severance based on the improper joinder of certain counts relating only to a co-defendant is harmless;
• whether the landlord of a New York City loft who has not complied with the Loft Law may maintain an ejectment action based on non-payment of rent;
• whether a college baseball pitcher assumed the risk of injury associated with his indoor practice;
• whether a historian is entitled under the Freedom of Information Law to unredacted transcripts of interviews that would identify informants who were promised confidentiality during investigations of school employees suspected of communist party ties.

The decisions are available to the public and can be found at the court’s website.