Does the Natural Gas Act Preempt State-Law Antitrust Lawsuits? – Supreme Court Arguments

By Terence Healey, Natalie Mitchell, Christopher Polito and Mary Treanor

On July 1, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a petition to hear an appeal by several companies contending that state-law antitrust claims were precluded by the federal Natural Gas Act and, therefore, fell under the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  These state-law claims alleged manipulation of gas prices, as provided on published indices, during the western energy crisis from 2000 to 2002.  The underlying Ninth Circuit decision was said to conflict with settled law, and the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Monday, January 12, 2015.  This case raises an intriguing question about what the Justices aim to achieve given the intervening expansion of FERC’s anti-manipulation authority in the 2005 Energy Policy Act – a point stressed by FERC and the Solicitor General in their brief opposing cert.  read more

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