Graves Dougherty attorneys Guillermo Alarcón, Marianne Nitsch, John McFarland, Mary Keeney, and Nicholas Miller obtained a significant decision against the Railroad Commission in Opiela v. Railroad Commission of Texas, No. D-1-GN-20-000099, in the 53rd District Court of Travis County. The case involved a challenge to the Railroad Commission’s allocation and PSA well permitting procedures on the grounds the Commission violated the Texas Administrative Procedure Act by informally adopting rules for issuance of such permits without following the rule-making procedures of the Act. The district court agreed and entered a decision earlier this week holding the Commission “erred in adopting rules . . . without complying with the requirements of Administrative Procedure Act.” (see order here). This case answers a controversy that has been brewing for over a decade. Many legal scholars have written about the legality of allocation and PSA wells, but until now no Texas court had addressed the issue. The court also held that the Commission erred in finding that the operator had shown a good faith claim of right to drill the well.
Graves Dougherty was able to put together a team of uniquely skilled attorneys to handle the case at all stages, beginning with the initial agency proceedings, by building on the team’s experience in oil and gas, administrative law, and civil litigation. Consistent with the firm’s dedication to hiring and training talented young lawyers, Marianne Nitsch (class of 2015) and Guillermo Alarcón (class of 2016) were primarily responsible for briefing and arguing the case.
Mr. McFarland has written more about the case on his blog.