The SRST and the CRST amended their complaints to incorporate religious freedom and other claims. In addition, the Oglala and Yankton Sioux tribes have filed related lawsuits to prevent construction of the Dakota Access pipeline project. These lawsuits have been consolidated into the action initiated by the SRST. Several individual members of the Tribes have also intervened in the lawsuit asserting claims that overlap with those brought by the four tribes.
On June 14, 2017, the Court ruled on SRST’s and CRST’s motions for partial summary judgment and the USACE’s cross-motions for partial summary judgment. The Court rejected the majority of the Tribes’ assertions and granted summary judgment on most claims in favor of the USACE and Dakota Access. In particular, the Court concluded that the USACE had not violated any trust duties owed to the Tribes and had generally complied with its obligations under the Clean Water Act, the Rivers and Harbors Act, the Mineral Leasing Act, the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and other related statutes; however, the Court remanded to the USACE three discrete issues for further analysis and explanation of its prior determination under certain of these statutes. The Court ordered briefing to determine whether the pipeline should remain in operation during the pendency of the USACE’s review process or whether to vacate the existing permits. The USACE and Dakota Access opposed any shutdown of operations of the pipeline during this review process. On October 11, 2017, the Court issued an order allowing the pipeline to remain in operation during the pendency of the USACE’s review process. In early October 2017, USACE advised the Court that it expects to complete this additional work by April 2018. The Court has stayed consideration of any other claims until it fully resolves the remaining issues relating to its remand order.
While we believe that the pending lawsuits are unlikely to block operation of the pipeline, we cannot assure this outcome. We cannot determine when or how these lawsuits will be resolved or the impact they may have on the Dakota Access project.
Mont Belvieu Incident
On June 26, 2016, a hydrocarbon storage well located on another operator’s facility adjacent to Lone Star NGL Mont Belvieu’s (“Lone Star”) facilities in Mont Belvieu, Texas experienced an over-pressurization resulting in a subsurface release. The subsurface release caused a fire at Lone Star’s South Terminal (CMB) and damage to Lone Star’s storage well operations at its South and North Terminals. Normal operations have resumed at the facilities with the exception of one of Lone Star’s storage wells. Lone Star is still quantifying the extent of its incurred and ongoing damages and has or will be seeking reimbursement for these losses.
Sunoco, Inc. and/or Sunoco, Inc. (R&M), along with other refiners, manufacturers and sellers of gasoline, are defendants in lawsuits alleging MTBE contamination of groundwater. The plaintiffs, typically governmental authorities, assert product liability claims and additional claims including nuisance, trespass, negligence, violation of environmental laws, and/or deceptive business practices. The plaintiffs seek to recover compensatory damages, and in some cases also seek natural resource damages, injunctive relief, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.
As of September 30, 2017, Sunoco, Inc. is a defendant in six cases, including cases initiated by the States of New Jersey, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and two others by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico with the more recent Puerto Rico action being a companion case alleging damages for additional sites beyond those at issue in the initial Puerto Rico action. Four of these cases are venued in a multidistrict litigation proceeding in a New York federal court.
Sunoco, Inc. and Sunoco, Inc. (R&M) have reached a settlement with the State of New Jersey. The court approved the Judicial Consent Order on October 10, 2017.
It is reasonably possible that a loss may be realized in the remaining cases; however, we are unable to estimate the possible loss or range of loss in excess of amounts accrued. An adverse determination with respect to one or more of the MTBE cases could have a significant impact on results of operations during the period in which any such adverse determination occurs, but such an adverse determination likely would not have a material adverse effect on the Partnership’s consolidated financial position.
Regency Merger Litigation
Following the January 26, 2015 announcement of the Regency-ETP merger (the “Regency Merger”), purported Regency unitholders filed lawsuits in state and federal courts in Dallas and Delaware asserting claims relating to the Regency Merger. All but one Regency Merger-related lawsuits have been dismissed. On June 10, 2015, Adrian Dieckman (“Dieckman”), a purported Regency unitholder, filed a class action complaint, Dieckman v. Regency GP LP, et al., C.A. No. 11130-CB, in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (the “Regency Merger Litigation”), on behalf of Regency’s common unitholders against Regency GP, LP; Regency GP LLC; ETE, ETP, ETP GP, and the members of Regency’s board of directors (the “Regency Litigation Defendants”).