Babst Calland Continues to Expand Mobility and Safety Practice; Former NHTSA Senior Attorney Arija Flowers Joins Law Firm
Ms. Flowers, a former NHTSA attorney well-known in the industry, served as a Senior Trial Attorney with the NHTSA Office of Chief Counsel. There, she was the lead U.S. federal enforcement attorney for a number of matters addressing some of the most significant issues in the industry. Ms. Flowers’ joining the Firm continues to enhance its best-in-class capabilities to meet the developing needs of mobility and transport clients and other companies with emerging technologies. The practice provides strategic leadership with business and legal advice for manufacturers, suppliers, start-ups, technology companies and government entities in the full-spectrum of transportation regulatory, safety, product quality, and automation matters, including automated/autonomous driving systems.
“Arija Flowers’ joining our team represents a consolidation at Babst Calland of several recent former NHTSA and DOT senior staff and leadership with the freshest and deepest understanding of NHTSA/DOT’s current decision-makers and technical analysis approach,” said Babst Calland’s Managing Shareholder Donald C. Bluedorn II. “The continued outreach to us for services from companies – even those who are well represented at present – has really spoken to the success of our vision,” he added.
Ms. Flowers will join Will Godfrey, Babst Calland’s Director, Mobility, Automation and Safety, and a former General Motors engineer and senior NHTSA regulatory chief, and Tim Goodman, the leader of Babst Calland’s Mobility, Transport and Safety Group, and former NHTSA chief legal officer for enforcement and U.S. federal senior executive.
Ms. Flowers will help companies navigate the full-spectrum of mobility, vehicle safety and related regulatory matters, including self-certification of standards, homologation, regulatory compliance, automated/autonomous driving systems, innovative mobility and safety approaches, best practices and emerging trends, standards enforcement, defects investigations, government inquiries and enforcement proceedings, and recall implementation.
“The industry knows and respects Arija, and I’m delighted she’s rejoining me and Will Godfrey,” said Tim Goodman. “The sheer number of companies we advise – from OEMs to suppliers, from start-ups and ride-sharing companies and e-commerce enterprises – is objective evidence of our organic growth, and Arija will be a force-multiplier on our team.”
At NHTSA, among other things, Ms. Flowers served as lead counsel for the agency’s investigation and ongoing oversight of the largest motor vehicle recall in U.S. history (Takata air bag inflators, involving 19 automotive manufacturers and an estimated 65-70 million inflators in 40-50 million vehicles in the U.S. market). She provided insight and leadership in agency investigations of vehicle and equipment manufacturers concerning safety-related defects, noncompliance with federal safety standards, and other violations of the Vehicle Safety Act and regulations. Ms. Flowers also supported DOT’s U.S. Supreme Court and federal appellate litigation practice on a number of cases.
Ms. Flowers has a background in public service. Prior to the Department of Transportation, she served as a judicial law clerk, and before law school served as the Scheduler and Executive Assistant to a senior U.S. Senator and staff to a Senator in the Washington state legislature.
Ms. Flowers earned her J.D., magna cum laude, from American University Washington College of Law. She graduated from the University of Washington with dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and in Communications and Political Science.
Matthew Wood Joins Babst Calland
Mr. Wood counsels clients in the manufacturing, chemical, metals, and other sectors on permitting matters, compliance, enforcement actions, and government investigations and provides support on issue assessment, risk management, and strategy implementation to ensure effective client operations. His work often involves coordinating with technical consultants to prepare reports, position papers, and other deliverables for clients, agencies, and other relevant stakeholders. He also has experience with state and federal agency information requests and conducts environmental due diligence in transactional matters.
A 2011 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, he previously was an associate for a law firm in Phoenix, Ariz. where he gained experience working on a variety of environmental matters at the county, state, federal, and tribal levels.
Attorney Jennifer J. Hicks Selected to Leadership West Virginia Class of 2019
A 2010 graduate of West Virginia University College of Law, Ms. Hicks has represented clients in a wide variety of litigation matters in state and federal courts throughout West Virginia. These include breach of contract, employment, environmental, nuisance, trespass, property damage, premises liability, product liability, consumer protection, partition, unknown heirs, criminal, and landlord-tenant, among others. Ms. Hicks has both trial and appellate court experience, including jury trials, and has also litigated before administrative agencies.
Leadership West Virginia (www.leadershipwv.org) is now in its 28th year as the statewide education and leadership development program in West Virginia. The eight-month program identifies emerging leaders from a variety of employers throughout West Virginia and enhances their knowledge not only of the challenges facing the state, but also the state’s unique attributes and diversity. Recognizing that the cultivation of new leadership is of utmost importance to West Virginia’s future prosperity and progress, Leadership West Virginia works to develop and motivate a cross-section of leaders who will use their talents and abilities to inspire others and to foster a new spirit of energy, enthusiasm and vitality throughout the state. LWV is affiliated with the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
“Each year, the class participants are selected from a list of top-quality applicants from around the state. Individuals are selected into the program because they demonstrate leadership skills and experiences in civic activities and in their professional careers,” said Pam Farris, Executive Director of Leadership West Virginia. “We continue to see an increase in the number of applicants each year and we are very pleased with the diversity of candidates in the 2019 class.” Farris noted that interest in being a class member continues to be a very competitive process as the program now has over 1,400 alumni from across the state and graduates from 53 out of 55 counties.
Throughout this year members of the class will travel to different communities in West Virginia to receive broad-based education on critical topics and, at the same time, have opportunities to hone their leadership skills.
“Leadership West Virginia provides graduates with the skills and the knowledge in making sound, informed decisions,” added Farris. Many of the participants serve as private citizen volunteers, and many seek and serve in public office. Among the many benefits that come with being a graduate of the program is the network of alumni throughout the state. “Leadership West Virginia congratulates the individuals who were selected to this year’s class.”
Babst Calland Names Calfe, Cooper, Fortna and James Shareholders
Meredith Calfe, a member of the Firm’s Energy and Natural Resources Group, concentrates her practice on counseling oil and gas clients on mineral-related transaction matters, including title examination, due diligence and curative work.
Ms. Calfe is a 2009 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Kate Cooper, a member of the Firm’s Corporate and Commercial Group, counsels for-profit and non-profit entities in connection with mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, and a broad range of general corporate matters, including business planning and structuring, commercial contracts, securities law matters and governance issues.
Ms. Cooper is a 2010 graduate, cum laude, of Boston College Law School.
Alana Fortna is a member of the Firm’s Litigation, Environmental, Employment and Labor, and Emerging Technologies groups. Ms. Fortna represents clients in complex commercial litigation with a focus primarily on environmental litigation, including large-scale cost recovery actions under CERCLA and state law statutes, actions seeking injunctive relief under RCRA, and citizens’ suits brought under various federal statutes and regulatory programs. She also leverages her litigation experience to help companies and other entities with emerging technologies strike a balance between innovation and risk management.
Ms. Fortna is a 2010 graduate, magna cum laude, of Duquesne University School of Law.
Rachel James, a member of the Firm’s Energy and Natural Resources Group, represents energy clients on oil, gas and mineral-related transaction matters, including title examination, due diligence activities, curative work and the acquisition and disposition of oil and gas fee and leasehold assets.
Ms. James is a 2009 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Pa. Firm Leaders Tout Confidence as Year-End Collections Crunch Looms
Leaders of midsize firms in Pennsylvania were upbeat when asked about their expectations for 2018 as the year wraps up, with little anxiety around the prospect of year-end collections.
These midsize firms agreed that demand has been healthy, in line with industrywide trends, but they pointed to a range of reasons. A few firm leaders pointed to particularly strong niche or specialty practice areas that drove revenue, while others noted growth by way of head count expansion.
Donald Bluedorn, managing shareholder of Pittsburgh-based Babst Calland, said it has been a strong year so far for the firm’s primary sectors. As for collecting on that work, he said, “We haven’t seen any slippage in accounts receivable.”
“People value the work we’re doing, they’re willing to pay for the work, and they’re paying us on time,” Bluedorn said.
Energy is a major practice at Babst Calland, and demand has grown recently in that area, Bluedorn said, particularly in mineral title services. He noted that the energy sector on the whole has been “robust,” particularly after a weaker 2016.
The firm also did some significant hiring in its emerging technologies practice in 2018, including a lawyer focused on unmanned vehicles and related legal issues. That’s an area where demand is growing as well, Bluedorn said. “We’ve seen an uptick in [private equity] projects, particularly as it relates to emerging technologies,” he noted.
For the full article, click here.
Paving the Way for Autonomous Vehicles
On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, 160 industry and public sector representatives attended the 2018 TriState Infrastructure Summit, presented by the TriState Infrastructure Council and its partners, at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry Township, Pa. The Summit addressed transportation and infrastructure needs in the Ohio River Valley integral to the petrochemical industry and related economic growth in the region.
Stan Caldwell, CMU Executive Director of Traffic21 and Mobility21 participated with Justine Kasznica of law firm Babst Calland’s Mobility, Transport and Safety practice on the panel Paving the Way for Autonomous Vehicles hosted by Babst Calland. The presentation included a discussion about autonomous vehicles in the broader context of infrastructure design and development, and issues related to urban infrastructure and research and advancements in mobility technologies.
O. Chris Jackson, Production Unit Manager for Logistics, Shell Polymers, Pennsylvania, was the keynote speaker for the event on Regional Transportation and Infrastructure Considerations for a World Class Petrochemical Complex.
For more information, including a complete agenda for the TriState Infrastructure Summit, click here.
Erbelding, Evans, Loomis-Gustafson, Malik, Petty and Skiba Join Law Firm Babst Calland
PITTSBURGH, PA, December 3, 2018 – Attorneys Brandy L. Erbelding, Esther L. Evans, Carly Loomis-Gustafson, Jennifer L. Malik, C. Scott Petty and Megan M. Skiba joined law firm Babst Calland.
Brandy L. Erbelding is an associate in the Corporate and Commercial Group of Babst Calland. Ms. Erbelding represents clients on general corporate and transactional matters, including real estate transactions, commercial contracts, and advising on intellectual property matters. She is a 2017 graduate of Wake Forest University School of Law.
Esther L. Evans is a staff attorney in the firm’s Energy and Natural Resources Group. Ms. Evans’ practice focuses on transaction matters related to oil and gas mineral title issues and opinions. She is a 2017 graduate of Regent University School of Law.
Carly Loomis-Gustafson is an associate in the Litigation Group, where she assists in the litigation of a wide variety of legal matters. She is a 2017 graduate of Duquesne University School of Law.
Jennifer L. Malik is an associate in Babst Calland’s Public Sector and Energy and Natural Resources groups. Ms. Malik’s practice focuses primarily on municipal and land use law, with an emphasis on zoning, subdivision and land development, and municipal ordinance construction and enforcement. She is a 2011 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center.
C. Scott Petty is a staff attorney in the Energy and Natural Resources Group of Babst Calland. Mr. Petty’s practice is focused on serving the needs of the firm’s oil, gas and mineral-related clients, with an emphasis on oil and gas title opinions. He is a 2006 graduate of Texas Wesleyan University School of Law.
Megan M. Skiba is an associate in the firm’s Corporate and Commercial Group. Ms. Skiba’s practice focuses primarily on corporate and transactional matters, including real estate transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and commercial contracts. She is a 2018 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Babst Calland Ranked in 2019 “Best Law Firms”
Firms included in the 2019 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.
Ranked firms, presented in tiers, are listed on a national and/or metropolitan scale. Receiving a tier designation reflects the high level of respect a firm has earned among other leading lawyers and clients in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, professionalism and integrity.
Babst Calland received the following rankings in the 2019 U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms”:
- Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
- Environmental Law
- Land Use & Zoning Law
- Litigation – Construction
- Litigation – Environmental
- Mining Law
- Natural Resources Law
- Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
- Commercial Litigation
- Construction Law
- Corporate Law
- Employment Law – Management
- Energy Law
- Environmental Law
- Information Technology Law
- Labor Law – Management
- Land Use & Zoning Law
- Litigation – Bankruptcy
- Litigation – Construction
- Litigation – Labor & Employment
- Litigation – Environmental
- Litigation – Land Use & Zoning
- Mergers & Acquisitions Law
- Municipal Law
- Natural Resources Law
- Water Law
- Commercial Litigation
- Environmental Law
- Energy Law
- Litigation – Environmental
- Litigation – ERISA
- Mining Law
- Natural Resources Law
- Oil & Gas Law
- Construction Law
Klapkowski, Kreit, Kuban, Marinucci, Snyder and Voigt Join Babst Calland
Kathleen M. Klapkowski is an associate in the Energy and Natural Resources Group of Babst Calland. She counsels various energy, oil, gas and mineral-related clients on transaction matters, including title examination, title curative, and oil and gas title opinions. She is a 2018 graduate of Duquesne University School of Law, cum laude.
Brian W. Kreit is an associate in the Construction and Litigation groups of Babst Calland. He has experience in cases involving the Pennsylvania Prompt Payment Act, Mechanics’ Lien Law, and the Contractor and Subcontractor Payment Act (CASPA). He represents contractors, subcontractors, joint venture partners, design engineers and project owners in a variety of construction-related disputes. He is a 2015 graduate of Duquesne University School of Law.
Thomas A. Kuban is a staff attorney in the Energy and Natural Resources Group of Babst Calland. Mr. Kuban counsels various energy, oil, gas and mineral-related clients on transaction matters as they relate to title issues and opinions. He is a 2017 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, cum laude.
Alexandra Marinucci is an associate in the Environmental Group of Babst Calland. She assists clients with matters encompassing a broad range of environmental issues, including those related to state and federal permitting, regulatory compliance, and environmental litigation. She is a 2018 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, magna cum laude.
Casey J. Snyder is an associate in the Environmental Group of Babst Calland. He has experience with various federal, state, and local environmental regulations, including assisting clients with numerous regulatory issues affecting the oil and gas industry. He is a 2018 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Carla M. Voigt is an associate in the Litigation Group at Babst Calland. Ms. Voigt has a broad range of litigation experience in several practice areas including commercial, labor and employment, energy, and toxic tort. She is a 2014 graduate of the George Washington University Law School.
Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy Derek Kan will join Congressman Keith Rothfus to Meet with Local Transportation and Infrastructure Industry Professionals and Leaders
PITTSBURGH, Pa – On Friday, August 31st, The Department of Transportation’s Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, Derek Kan, will join Congressman Keith Rothfus (PA-12) in Western Pennsylvania to discuss projects of regional importance, as well as emerging autonomous vehicle technology, with local leaders and professionals in the transportation and infrastructure sectors.
Justine Kasznica of Babst Calland’s Mobility, Transport and Safety practice will facilitate the roundtable discussion related to autonomous vehicles and drones among leading manufacturers, technology companies, and universities.
Five Babst Calland Attorneys Named as 2019 Best Lawyers® “Lawyers of the Year” and 33 Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America©
Receiving this designation reflects the high level of respect a lawyer has earned among other leading lawyers in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, professionalism, and integrity. Those named to the 2019 Best Lawyers “Lawyer of the Year” include:
Kevin J. Garber, Natural Resources Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Pittsburgh, Pa. – In addition to the “Lawyer of the Year” award, Kevin Garber was also listed in the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America in Environmental Law, Energy Law, Water Law, and Litigation – Environmental.
Joseph K. Reinhart, Environmental Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Pittsburgh, Pa. – In addition to the “Lawyer of the Year” award, Joseph K. Reinhart was also listed in the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America in Natural Resources Law, Energy Law, and Litigation – Environmental.
Mark D. Shepard, Litigation – Environmental “Lawyer of the Year” in Pittsburgh, Pa. – In addition to the “Lawyer of the Year” award, Mark D. Shepard was also listed in the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America in Commercial Litigation and Bet-the-Company Litigation.
Timothy M. Miller, Litigation – Environmental “Lawyer of the Year” in Charleston, W.Va. – In addition to the “Lawyer of the Year” award, Timothy Miller was also listed in the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America in Commercial Litigation, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Oil and Gas Law, and Litigation – Environmental.
Christopher B. “Kip” Power, Environmental Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Charleston, W.Va. – In addition to the “Lawyer of the Year” award, Kip Power was also listed in the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America in Natural Resources Law, Energy Law, Commercial Litigation, Mining Law, Oil and Gas Law, Litigation – Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy), Litigation – Environmental, Litigation – Land Use and Zoning, and Litigation – Municipal.
In addition, 33 Babst Calland lawyers were selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, the most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession, in the following 26 practice areas:
- Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law: Norman E. Gilkey
- Bet-the-Company Litigation: Mark D. Shepard, Timothy M. Miller
- Commercial Litigation: Steven F. Baicker-McKee, Matthew S. Casto, Mark D. Shepard, Steven B. Silverman, Timothy M. Miller, Christopher B. Power, Robert M. Stonestreet
- Construction Law: Kurt F. Fernsler, D. Matthew Jameson III, Richard J. Lolli, David E. White
- Corporate Law: Frank J. Clements, Bruce F. Rudoy, Laura Stone
- Employment Law – Management: Richard J. Antonelli
- Energy Law: Kevin J. Garber, Steven M. Green, Blaine A. Lucas, Timothy M. Miller, Christopher B. Power, Joseph K. Reinhart
- Environmental Law: Chester R. Babst III, Steven F. Baicker-McKee, Donald C. Bluedorn II, Dean A. Calland, Kevin J. Garber, Lindsay P. Howard, Janet L. McQuaid, Jean M. Mosites, Christopher B. Power, Joseph K. Reinhart, Robert M. Stonestreet, Michael H. Winek
- Information Technology Law: Steven B. Silverman
- Labor Law – Management: Richard J. Antonelli, John A. McCreary, Jr.
- Land Use and Zoning Law: Blaine A. Lucas
- Litigation – Bankruptcy: Norman E. Gilkey
- Litigation – Construction: Kurt F. Fernsler, D. Matthew Jameson III, James D. Miller, Richard W. Saxe Jr., David E. White
- Litigation – Environmental: Chester R. Babst III, Steven F. Baicker-McKee, Donald C. Bluedorn II, Kevin J. Garber, Lindsay P. Howard, Timothy M. Miller, Christopher B. Power, Joseph K. Reinhart, Mark D. Shepard
- Litigation – ERISA: Mychal S. Schulz
- Litigation – Labor and Employment: Richard J. Antonelli
- Litigation – Land Use and Zoning: Blaine A. Lucas, Christopher B. Power
- Litigation – Municipal: Christopher B. Power
- Litigation – Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy): Christopher B. Power
- Mergers and Acquisitions Law: Bruce F. Rudoy
- Mining Law: Christopher B. Power
- Municipal Law: Blaine A. Lucas
- Natural Resources Law: Kevin K. Douglass, Kevin J. Garber, Christopher B. Power, Joseph K. Reinhart
- Oil and Gas Law: Timothy M. Miller, Christopher B. Power
- Real Estate Law: Charles Saffer
- Water Law: Donald C. Bluedorn II, Kevin J. Garber
Best Lawyers undergoes an authentication process, and inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America is based solely on peer review and is divided by geographic region and practice areas. The list has published for more than three decades, earning the respect of the profession, the media, and the public as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals. Its first international list was published in 2006 and since then has grown to provide lists in over 65 countries.
Janet McQuaid Joins Babst Calland
Ms. McQuaid has assisted clients in preparing comments on proposed environmental rules and challenged unfavorable regulations in court, including briefing and argument before the Fifth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal on behalf of industry trade associations. She is also highly experienced in the environmental aspects of mergers and acquisitions, having conducted environmental due diligence and drafted the environmental terms for hundreds of transactions involving industrial facilities and commercial properties. She is a 1992 graduate of the University of Texas.
Babst Calland Grows Emerging Technologies Practice, Adds Three Lateral Attorneys
“The addition of these technology and startup-focused attorneys supports the Firm’s strategy to expand its multidisciplinary team to serve the needs of clients developing new technologies, new companies and new ideas,” said Babst Calland’s Managing Shareholder Donald C. Bluedorn II.
Justine M. Kasznica joined as shareholder in the Firm’s Mobility, Transport and Safety and Corporate and Commercial groups. Ms. Kasznica is a technology and commercial transactions attorney who represents technology companies, investor groups, universities and research institutions seeking to commercialize new technologies, as well as innovative products and services. Her clients are customers and vendors of software, SaaS, IoT, AI and robotics products and services in the retail, aerospace, autonomous vehicle, healthcare, education, emergency management and system safety/security industries, among others. In addition, she has experience in general corporate and commercial law matters, and supports clients with their entity formation, corporate governance, venture capital and private equity investments, and commercial contract needs.
A recreational drone pilot with a passion for robotics, space and aviation, she represents commercial space and drone (unmanned aircraft systems – UAS) companies in connection with their regulatory needs, and she also advises universities and large commercial institutions with respect to their UAS operations. In this role, she regularly participates in speaking engagements and leads workshops on legal and regulatory topics related to UAS and commercial space, and serves as an advisor to various UAS and space technology companies and projects.
Ms. Kasznica has been actively involved in Pittsburgh’s innovation economy since she moved to Pittsburgh in 2008. She served as Executive Director of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law Innovation Practice Institute and remains active on the boards of several entrepreneurship-focused organizations and programs, including Ascender, an accelerator and co-working hub. She is a founding member of ReefBot, a collaborative partnership between Carnegie Mellon’s Robotic Institute, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium to develop autonomous underwater vehicles for the purpose of oceanographic exploration and coral reef conservation.
Ms. Kasznica graduated from Yale University (Branford College) with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and earned her Juris Doctor from Rutgers School of Law-Camden. She served as a law clerk for Judge Thomas M. Hardiman on the U.S Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She currently serves as the President of the Yale Club of Pittsburgh.
Carl A. Ronald joined as shareholder in the Corporate and Commercial Group. As a highly-experienced intellectual property attorney for more than 20 years, he represents clients, large and small, in the prosecution, licensing, and enforcement of their patent, copyright, and trademark rights. As part of his practice, he counsels clients on how to strategically protect their inventive creations, domestically and in foreign jurisdictions, as well as providing advice on freedom to operate, infringement studies, portfolio analyses, and white space evaluations. He also routinely prepares and negotiates commercial and employment documentation relating to the ownership, use, transfer, sharing, and joint development of existing and new intellectual property.
Mr. Ronald also has significant expertise in dispute resolution, having represented client interests in federal and state courts, as well as before panels in alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as arbitrations and mediations. He has also engaged in appellate work when necessary to protect a client’s interests, advocating client positions before the Third and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeals, as well as arguing on behalf of clients before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in Alexandria, Va. He has been actively involved in Pittsburgh’s start-up scene throughout his legal career, dating back to his own startup company, and more recently working on-site site with a medical robotics company. He also volunteers his time and expertise screening and vetting the IP portfolios of funding candidates for two local angel investment groups and often speaks on topics related to intellectual property.
Mr. Ronald graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering and earned his Juris Doctor from Duquesne University School of Law. He is also a graduate of the Benchtop to Bedside certificate program at the University of Pittsburgh.
Michael E. Fink joined as associate in the Corporate and Commercial Group. Mr. Fink focuses his practice on technology transactions and licensing with analysis and negotiation of intellectual property. He represents clients in mergers and acquisitions in general corporate, energy, and healthcare sectors, and handles private placements involving preferred stock, convertible debt, and seed and angel financings, preparation of pro forma capitalization tables, document drafting and negotiation, and deal closings. He also counsels clients in securities compliance providing substantive and technical reviews of annual reports, quarterly reports, current reports, proxy statements, and registration statements, as well as disclosure research and analysis. In addition, Mr. Fink provides general corporate counsel in entity formation including negotiation and preparation of governing documents, capitalization tables, corporate governance advice including best practices and observation of formalities and fiduciary duties, and board and stockholder meeting minute drafting and review.
Mr. Fink graduated from Albright College with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and earned his Juris Doctor from University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
“Justine, Carl, and Michael are well-respected, accomplished legal professionals with backgrounds and experience unique to the industries and clients they serve. They join forces with Babst Calland’s existing multidisciplinary team focusing on the needs and expectations of startups and companies with emerging technologies. They are a natural fit for our Firm as they share similar values, experience and philosophy in serving clients,” said Bluedorn.
The 2018 Babst Calland Report Focuses on the Appalachian Basin Oil & Gas Industry Forging Ahead Despite Obstacles
PITTSBURGH, June 21, 2018 – Babst Calland today released its annual energy industry report: The 2018 Babst Calland Report – Appalachian Basin Oil & Gas Industry: Forging Ahead Despite Obstacles; Legal and Regulatory Perspective for Producers and Midstream Operators. This annual review of shale gas development activity in the Appalachian Basin acknowledges an ongoing rebound despite obstacles presented by regulatory agencies, the courts, activists, and the market. To request a copy of the Report, contact email@example.com.
In this Report, Babst Calland attorneys provide perspective on issues, challenges, opportunities and recent developments in the Appalachian Basin and beyond relevant to producers and operators.According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s May 2018 report, the Appalachian Marcellus and Utica shale plays account for more than 40 percent of U.S. natural gas output, compared to only three percent a decade ago. Since then, the Appalachian Basin has become recognized in the U.S. and around the world as a major source of natural gas and natural gas liquids.
The industry has been forging ahead amidst relatively low natural gas prices, infrastructure building, acreage rationalization and drilling plans that align with business expectations. The policy landscape continues to evolve with ever-changing federal and state environmental and safety regulations and tax structures along with a patchwork of local government requirements across the multi-state region.
Joseph K. Reinhart, shareholder and co-chair of Babst Calland’s Energy and Natural Resources Group, said, “This Report provides perspective on the challenges and opportunities of a shale gas industry in the Appalachian Basin that continues to enjoy a modest rebound. While more business-friendly policies and procedures are emanating from Washington, D.C., threats of trade wars are raising concerns about the U.S. energy industry’s ability to fully capitalize on planned exports to foreign markets.”
He added, “In a sustaining low price natural gas environment, operators in the Appalachian Basin continue to reduce operating costs and maximize capital and operating budgets by increasing efficiencies, employing new technologies and consolidating operations. As a result, drilling activity and production continue to be strong compared to a year or two ago. All indicators suggest continued growth prospects for Appalachian Basin shale despite the lingering obstacles facing the industry.”
The 84-page Report contains five sections, highlighted below, each addressing key challenges for oil and gas producers and midstream operators.
Business Outlook: Growth Prospects Continue
The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that U.S. energy consumption and production is most likely set for modest growth over the next 30 years. Henry Hub spot prices for natural gas rebounded modestly in 2017 and have tracked reasonably close in the first half of 2018. Given relatively-flat price projections, Appalachian operators’ ability to keep costs down, improve efficiency, and pursue attractive transactions remains critical. The energy industry turnaround is evidenced by the significant slowing of bankruptcy filings, from 70 in 2016 to just 24 in 2017.
Oil and Gas Regulations Continue to Evolve, Reform and Persist
Federal and state courts, legislatures and regulatory agencies are addressing various oil and gas issues and reforms. Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA) poses a new and significant legal and novel constitutional issue for operators in the Commonwealth. Recent court challenges include a sharp rise in the total dollar amount of assessed penalties based on how PADEP calculates fines and civil penalties. West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice issued a series of executive orders that seek broad regulatory reform.
Pipeline Outlook Positive, But More Public Pressure
The pipeline industry is continuing to experience increased scrutiny from regulators at all levels of government. Much of this scrutiny is being driven by public interest groups and environmental advocacy organizations becoming more active in the pipeline permitting process and resorting with greater frequency to litigation as a means of advancing policy initiatives that are not favorable to the energy industry. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) continued to make progress in finalizing the Gas Transmission and Gathering Final Rule with the intention to divide the content of the proposed rule into three separate final rules with the hope of issuing the rules by the end of 2019.
Local Government Regulation Continues to Spawn Debate and Legal Challenges
In Robinson Township, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated two sections of Pennsylvania’s updated Oil and Gas Act (Act 13) that limited the authority of local governments to regulate oil and gas operations. This was based on a reinvigorated interpretation and application of the Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, commonly known as the Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA). On June 1, 2018, the PA Supreme Court published its long-awaited Gorsline opinion. In a 4-3 decision, the majority reversed the Commonwealth Court’s decision affirming the granting of a conditional use approval for an unconventional natural gas well pad. West Virginia’s Lincoln and Fayette counties have enacted forms of “nuisance ordinances” that could potentially be used to target oil and gas related operations. As Ohio Courts heard and decided several cases regarding the extent of local authority to regulate oil and gas development, anti-fracking groups pursued an alternative route to regulation through local ballot initiatives.
West Virginia continues to see private nuisance suits filed against both upstream and midstream companies. In the last few years, civil suit filings alleging property contamination and nuisance claims from unconventional natural gas development have diminished significantly in Pennsylvania. Articles related to claims of alleged health effects from unconventional natural gas development continue to be published in scientific journals and in the media in even greater numbers, resulting in increasing controversy and polarization.
Many of the current opportunities and challenges facing the industry are described in the pages of this Report. Babst Calland’s multidisciplinary team of energy attorneys have chronicled the legal and regulatory landscape to help inform the energy industry operating in the Appalachian Basin.
Attorneys Christopher Bailey and Amanda Camplesi Join Babst Calland
Christopher T. Bailey is a 2010 graduate of the West Virginia University College of Law. He previously was an associate attorney for a law firm in headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and focused his practice on oil and gas transactional matters.
Amanda T. Camplesi is a 2015 graduate of the West Virginia University College of Law. She previously was a participant of the General Litigation Clinic where she practiced various types of law.