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Oil & Gas

Oil & Gas – Transportation

Clark Hill’s transportation attorneys advise energy clients on local and national ground and rail transportation issues and are active in Washington, D.C. in connection with related federal legislation and rulemaking. We assist with rail and truck transportation matters connected to oil and gas exploration, production, and product distribution, as well as the development of facilities built to store and transport crude oil and crude oil liquids, and oilfield products and supplies, from rail to truck or vice-versa, and to refineries and ships.

Our attorneys have decades of experience working with the various state and federal agencies in charge of permitting new facilities and rail lines, including significant experience addressing administrative issues with the United States Surface Transportation Board. We regularly counsel clients regarding critical questions such as whether the client will perform its own “in-plant” rail service, engage the services of an unregulated rail contractor, operate the track as a federally regulated common carrier, or seek service from an existing common carrier railroad.

Our attorneys frequently negotiate and draft a variety of railroad and truck service agreements and advise on the applicability of federal preemption of state or local laws, state and federal environmental and permitting requirements, and federal and state railroad and truck safety laws. Our transportation lawyers also have deep experience handling and resolving matters related to safety issues and administrative actions. These issues have taken on greater importance with the growth of shale energy projects, which tend to be truck-intensive because they often are far removed from pipelines, rail networks, and even paved roads.


  • Represented numerous short line railroads and public agency rail line owners in transaction negotiations and STB regulatory proceedings involving the lease, acquisition, and/or operation of railroad lines or companies
  • Assisted a series of energy-related companies in drafting, reviewing, and negotiating rail service agreements with Class I and short-line rail carriers
  • Advised developers of railroad served industrial sites on in dealings with Class I or other rail carriers including the regulatory and environmental implications of constructing new or expanded facilities
  • Represented a large energy company and railroad customer in a dispute with an unregulated railroad switching carrier over track access and related compensation
  • Represented a short line railroad client in the review and revision of a series of agreements for the storage and cleaning of tank cars owned by leasing companies
  • Advised major electric transmission line owner about acquiring easements and licenses from railroads
  • Assisted an insurance company client in denying liability coverage for leased railroad tank cars that were destroyed in the Lac Megantic derailment in Canada
  • Represented the largest owner of used locomotives in the United States in each of its refinancing transactions over the past 20 years;  work involved title searches at the STB and preparation of opinions of counsel as well as assisting with the drafting of documents and working with present or past lenders
  • Represented short line railroads, railroad customers, and public agencies in virtually all of the major railroad mergers during the past 20 years; work involved litigation or negotiations seeking trackage rights or market access, protective conditions, or other competitive relief;  merger applicants included Burlington Northern/Santa Fe, Union Pacific/Southern Pacific, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific/Delaware & Hudson, CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern Railway, and Consolidated Rail Corporation
  • Represented client in obtaining approval from the Federal Communications Commission for license assignments and transfers of corporate control for industrial entities that hold mobile radio licenses
  • Represented clients before five different public agency, port authority, and short line railroad clients to obtain STB authority to construct and operate new lines of railroad; involved obtaining support from rail customers and local communities as well as preparing economic testimony and satisfying numerous permitting requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.