Power Preemption

In a straightforward analysis of “conflict preemption,” the Fifth Circuit agreed that the Federal Power Act (the enabling statute for FERC) “preempts property damage claims under state law where the claim alleges negligence for failing to act in a manner FERC expressly declined to mandate while operating a FERC-licensed project.”  Simmons v. Sabine River Authority, No. 12-30494 (Oct. 9, 2013).  Here, plaintiffs claimed damages from flooding after spillway gates along the Sabine River were opened in late 2009; the Court concluded that the claims “infringe on FERC’s operational control” because “FERC, not state tort law, must set the appropriate duty of care for dam operators.”

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