Brennan Weintraub - Research Assistant
Jackie Schweichler - Staff Attorney
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
State Regulation: Colorado Supreme Court Declines to Impose Additional Rulemaking Responsibilities upon State Oil and Gas Agency
On January 14, 2019, the Colorado Supreme Court issued an opinion overturning a lower court ruling that required the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to incorporate additional environmental considerations into its permitting decisions. (COGCC v. Martinez, No. 17SC297) (p. 1-2). This case was brought by a group of youth activists who proposed a rule that would allow COGCC to issue permits for drilling only when there would not be cumulative adverse impacts to human health and the environment (p. 1-2). The plaintiffs initially submitted the proposed rule for consideration by COGCC, arguing that it was consistent with the legislative purpose of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Act (p. 13-14). COGCC unanimously rejected the proposed rule, finding that it did not possess the statutory authority to issue such a rule under existing law and that it was already working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to address many of the concerns raised by the plaintiffs (p. 12-13). The Supreme Court agreed with COGCC and declined to require that the proposed rule be adopted.
Municipal Regulation: Colorado Municipality Approves Six-Month Moratorium on Drilling
On January 14, 2019, the town of Superior, Colorado approved an ordinance placing a moratorium on oil and gas drilling for a period of six months (p. 2-3). The ordinance was approved after receiving a notification from the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission regarding an (ultimately withdrawn) application to drill a well in the town (p. 1). The town Board of Trustees has stated that it will use the time of the moratorium to study whether the approval of such drilling operations will be “sufficient to promote and protect the public health, safety, and welfare” of the town (p. 2-3).
Pipelines: Fourth Circuit Declines to Review Virginia Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipeline
On January 14, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued an opinion denying a petition for review of a pipeline water permit (Appalachian Voices v. State Water Control Board, 2019 WL 177928) (p. 1). The water permit was issued to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by the Virginia State Water Control Board. A coalition of environmental groups challenged the permit, alleging that the decision had been arbitrary and capricious (p. 3). The Court of Appeals disagreed, finding no indication that the agency did not consider all relevant factors or that it clearly made an error in judgment (p. 9).
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Dena Adler, Will New Litigation Pressure Energy and Industrial Infrastructure to Prepare For Climate Change?, Climate Law Blog (January 16, 2019)
Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council Meeting: January 23, 2019 - Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive ShaleLaw HotLinks:
“UK rejects case for relaxation of fracking regulations - FT” - Hart Energy
“Shutdown ties up Trump’s fossil fuel agenda” - Roll Call
“Pittsburgh suburb is deciding whether to allow fracking beneath local park” - StateImpact Pennsylvania
“LNG and natural gas pricing brings Haynesville back to life” - Houston Chronicle
“Potential of AI-powered directional drilling” - Hart Energy
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This week we published one new Shale Law in the Spotlight article: Shale Law in the Spotlight – Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Overview of Litigation Regarding the Pipeline Construction (Part 2 of 3).