Compliance with U.S. Sanctions Policy
U.S. economic sanctions policy presents an ever-evolving challenge to companies, particularly energy-related companies, that do business internationally. When the U.S. government abruptly reinstated economic sanctions against Libya in early 2011, one of the country’s largest independent petroleum refiners turned to the PRG team for assistance in understanding the policy to ensure compliance. The PRG team brought both its legal and government relations expertise to bear for the company. As U.S. policy changed over subsequent months, the PRG team worked closely with the company’s in-house counsel to evaluate an opportunity for the company to be one of the first purchasers of crude oil from rebel forces in Libya. The PRG team helped coordinate communications with the U.S. Treasury Department, and drafted and submitted the formal legal notices required in connection with the transaction. In the end, the company complied with U.S. law and the transaction was lauded as a significant achievement for U.S. policy towards Libya by demonstrating that the Libyan rebels could successfully negotiate significant transactions.
In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has joined the other branches of government in the debate over national energy policies and environmental standards. In 2007, the Court famously granted cert in a case concerning greenhouse gas regulations when it agreed to hear Massachusetts v. EPA. The case involved a challenge by several states and environmental organizations to the decision by the Bush Administration and the EPA to not regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act. With potential ramifications for industry, including the entire electric power industry and its associated employees, a coalition of 12 major manufacturing and energy labor unions turned to the PRG team to undertake the drafting and filing of an amicus brief with the Court. PRG also assisted with the rollout and strategic communications associated with the brief and the positions it espoused.
When Congress initiated an investigation into hydraulic fracturing that involved a PRG client, the PRG team was called upon to assist in clarifying and responding to the inquiry. Central elements of the team’s response included negotiating the rules of engagement with Congressional staff; preparing staff briefings in lieu of written responses when possible; and producing or protecting requested information. In addition to establishing a rapport with the majority staff who had initiated the request, PRG worked closely with the minority staff and other key committee members. The PRG team was ready when the committee issued a written report highlighting its findings, adeptly handling strategic communications and media relations. Based on this experience, and many others in the Congressional investigations context, the PRG team has developed a strong template of strategies to narrow the scope and limit the potential risks of investigations while maintaining good working relations with key Congressional staff.