Rockies Express Pipeline, LLC v. Salazar, No. 12-1055 (Fed. Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
In connection with construction of a pipeline to ship natural gas from Wyoming to Eastern Ohio, Rockies Express and Minerals Management Service (MMS), within the Department of the Interior, entered into contracts containing Royalty-in-Kind (RIK) provisions. Under the RIK program, the government receives its royalty for mineral resources extracted under federal leases “in kind,” i.e., in natural gas, rather than in cash, 30 U.S.C. 192; 42 U.S.C. 15902(b). In exchange, the government makes monthly payments to ensure that a certain quantity of the mineral resources is made available for its purposes. The government then enters into processing and transportation contracts to sell the mineral royalties, often at a substantial profit over royalties received in cash. The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals determined that MMS had materially breached the contract, but that Rockies Express was only entitled to damages that had accrued before the Secretary of the Interior announced a decision to phase-out RIK contracts. The Federal Circuit affirmed that MMS materially breached the contract, but reversed the decision to limit damages. Rockies Express is entitled to compensatory damages to put it in as good a position as that in which it would have been put by full performance of the contract.