Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Shale Law Weekly Review - January 14, 2020

Written by:
Chloe Marie – Research Specialist 
Jackie Schweichler – Staff Attorney
Audry Thompson – Research Assistant
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
National Energy Policy: White House Council on Environmental Quality Issues Proposed Regulations Focused on Updating NEPA Review Process 
On January 10, 2020, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published in the federal register a notice of proposed rulemaking designed to streamline the existing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations.  CEQ acknowledged that it has been more than 40 years since NEPA regulations have been updated and that changes are needed to reflect the Trump administration’s intent to reduce the paperwork burden on federal agencies as well as to minimize administrative delay.  CEQ therefore proposes, among other things, to accelerate the process of preparing an environmental impact statement by imposing stricter time and page limits and revising the terms and conditions of a NEPA review, including reconsidering the threshold for the implementation of a NEPA review.  The proposed rule also encourages coordination and consultation between state, tribal and local agencies to ensure optimal support and compliance with NEPA.  The public comment period is open until March 10, 2020. 

Pipelines: Federal Court Vacates Compressor Station Permit in Buckingham County, Virginia, for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project 
On January 7, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued an order vacating a key permit to construct and operate a compressor station in Buckingham County, Virginia (Friends of Buckingham v. State Air Pollution Control, No. 19-1152).  The compressor station is part of the infrastructure supporting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will carry natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina.  In January 2019, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board (the Board) granted Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC’s request for a permit to construct and operate the Buckingham County compressor station.  The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) petitioned the court for a review of the Board’s decision, alleging that Board did not sufficiently consider whether Union Hill was a “suitable” site for the compressor station.  Specifically, SELC argued that the Board failed to “consider electric turbines as zero-emission alternatives to gas-fired turbines” and that the Board failed “to assess the Compressor Station’s potential for disproportionate health impacts on the predominantly African-American community of Union Hill.”  The Court of Appeals agreed with the plaintiffs and remanded to the Board for further proceedings. 

GHG Emissions: Academic Study Reviews Air Pollution Emissions from Electricity Generation
On January 6, 2020, the School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California in San Diego, published a study in the journal Nature Sustainability on air quality impacts following the shift from coal to natural gas for electrical power generation in the United States between 2005 and 2016.  According to the study, the decommissioning of fossil fuel power plants contributed significantly to the reduction of nationwide mortality rate from greenhouse gases.  The study states that the transition from coal-fired units is also associated with increases in crop yield, suggesting that between 249 and 878 million bushels of corn, soybeans, and wheat were “saved” during this period.  The researchers noted the present findings are subject to change due to anticipated differences in feedstock between regions, the emergence of new technologies and that it is more than likely that the first retired coal-fired units were the oldest and least efficient ones.  The study is entitled “The downstream air pollution impacts of the transition from coal to natural gas in the United States.” 

PA Impact Fee: PA Independent Fiscal Office Releases 2019 Impact Fee Estimate
On January 9, 2020, the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released their 2019 Impact Fee Estimate.  According to the report, Pennsylvania will collect $198.2 million in impact fees for calendar year 2019.  This is a $53.6 million decrease from the $251.8 million collected in 2018.  IFO states that the reduction in fees collected can be largely attributed to low natural gas prices.  Part of the decrease can be attributed to the changed status of stripper wells following a Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinion issued in December 2018. (For more information on this decision, see our Shale Law in the Spotlight - An Overview of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Ruling Related to the Impact Fee) 

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Tiffany Challe, January 2020 Updates to the Climate Case Charts (Jan. 10, 2020)
Amy Turner, Municipal Natural Gas Bans: Round 1 (Jan. 9, 2020)

Pennsylvania Department of Energy Press Releases:

Pennsylvania Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices: 
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
50 Pa.B. 23 “Execution of Oil and Gas Lease for Publicly-Owned Streambeds” Notice (January 4, 2019).

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
50 Pa.B. 131 “Electric Generation Supplier License Cancellations of Companies with an Expired Financial Security, Insufficient Financial Security Amount or Language” Notice (January 4, 2019).

Pennsylvania Legislature:

Federal Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices: 
Energy Department
85 FR 72 “Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Perspective on Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas From the United States: 2019 Update-Response to Comments” Notice (January 2, 2020).

Environmental Protection Agency
85 FR 1297 “Idaho: Final Approval of State Underground Storage Tank Program Revisions, Codification, and Incorporation by Reference” Proposed Rule—Comment Period (January 10, 2020). 
85 FR 1269 “Georgia: Approval of State Coal Combustion Residuals Permit Program” Rule (January 10, 2020). 

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 
85 FR 1310 “Williams Companies Inc; Notice of Filing” Notice (January 10, 2020). 
85 FR 1310 “Combined Notice of Filings #1 [Wilderness Line Holdings, LLC]” Notice (January 10, 2020). 
85 FR 1308 “Combined Notice of Filings #1 [RWE Renewables Americas, LLC]” Notice (January 10, 2020). 
85 FR 1312 “Combined Notice of Filings [NET Mexico Pipeline Partners, LLC]” Notice (January 10, 2020). 
85 FR 1311 “Texas Eastern Transmission, LP; Notice of Application” Notice (January 10, 2020). 
85 FR 1309 “Texas Eastern Transmission, LP; Notice of Application” Notice (January 10, 2020).
85 FR 1102 “Annual Update of Filing Fees” Rule (January 9, 2020). 
85 FR 707 “North Baja Pipeline, LLC; Notice of Application” Notice (January 7, 2020). 
85 FR 706 “Combined Notice of Filings #1 [Energy Center Dover LLC, DB Energy Assets, LLC]” Notice (January 7, 2020). 
85 FR 705 “Combined Notice of Filings [Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC]” Notice (January 7, 2020).
85 FR 705 “CPV Fairview, LLC; Notice of Institution of Section 206 Proceeding and Refund Effective Date” Notice (January 7, 2020).
85 FR 500 “Combined Notice of Filings #1 [Beech Ridge Energy II LLC, Beech Ridge Energy II Holdings LLC, Southern Power Company]” Notice (January 6, 2020).
85 FR 500  “Combined Notice of Filings [Midship Pipeline Company]” Notice (January 6, 2020).
85 FR 503 “Notice of Petition for Declaratory Order; Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc.” Notice (January 6, 2020).
85 FR 502 “Notice of Request Under Blanket Authorization; Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP” Notice (January 6, 2020).
85 FR 91 “Combined Notice of Filings [Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.]” Notice (January 2, 2020).
85 FR 87 “Combined Notice of Filings #1 [Southwest Power Pool, Inc.]” Notice (January 2, 2020).
85 FR 87 “Records Governing Off-the-Record Communications; Public Notice” Notice (January 2, 2020).
85 FR 88 “Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC; Notice of Request Under Blanket Authorization” Notice (January 2, 2020).

Interior Department 
85 FR 529 “Agency Information Collection Activities. . . Coal Management” Notice—Comment Period (January 6, 2020). 

Land Management Bureau
85 FR 113 “Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Public Advisory Committee; Call for Nominations” Notice (January 2, 2020).

House Energy and Commerce Committee Actions:
H.R.5545 “NO EXHAUST Act of 2020” Referred to Committees on Energy and Commerce & Oversight and Reform (January 7, 2020). 
H.R.5542 “To require the Secretary of Energy to establish a grant program for States to provide incentives to natural gas distribution companies for the improvement of natural gas distribution systems, and for other purposes” Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (January 7, 2020). 
H.R.5544 “To create jobs and drive innovation and economic growth in the United States by supporting and promoting the manufacture of next generation technologies, including refrigerants, solvents, fire suppressants, foam blowing agents, aerosols, and propellants, and for other purposes” Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (January 7, 2020). 
H.R.5541 “Tribal Power Act” Referred to Committees on Natural Resources & Energy and Commerce (January 7, 2020). 
H.R.5554 “To amend the Energy Policy Act of 1992 to ensure that vehicles in Federal fleets comply with certain low greenhouse gas emission standards, and for other purposes” Referred to Committees on Oversight and Reform & Energy and Commerce (January 8, 2020). 
H.R.5558 “To promote American leadership in vehicle manufacturing, job creation, improved air quality, and climate protection through domestic manufacturing of low- and zero-emission vehicles and development of electric vehicle charging networks, and for other purposes” Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (January 8, 2020). 

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Actions: 
PN1156  “Nomination—James P. Danly, of Tennessee, to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the remainder of the term expiring June 30, 2023” Returned to President (January 3, 2020). 
PN1332 “Nomination—Katharine MacGregor, of Pennsylvania, to be Deputy Secretary of the Interior” Received from President and referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (January 6, 2020). 
S.2657 “Advanced Geothermal Innovation Leadership Act of 2019” Committee on Energy and Natural Resources filed written report (January 7, 2020). 
S.2702 “Integrated Energy Systems Act of 2019” Committee on Energy and Natural Resources filed written report (January 7, 2020). 
S.2714 “ARPA-E Reauthorization Act of 2019” Committee on Energy and Natural Resources filed written report (January 7, 2020). 
S.2799 “Nexus of Energy and Water for Sustainability Act of 2019” Committee on Energy and Natural Resources filed written report (January 7, 2020). 
S.2668 “Solar Energy Research and Development Act of 2019” Committee on Energy and Natural Resources filed written report (January 9, 2020). 
Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive ShaleLaw HotLinks:
“Anti-fracking Group Proposes Limiting Colorado Oil and Gas Drilling,” Reuters (Jan. 7, 2020)
“Natural-Gas Slide Continues to Start 2020,” The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 2, 2020)
Connect with us on Facebook! Every week we will post the CASL Ledger which details all our publications and activities from the week.
Want to get updates, but prefer to listen? Check out the Shale Law Podcast! We can always be found on our Libsyn page, iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.
Check out the December Agricultural Law Brief ! Each month we compile the most significant legal developments in agriculture. If you’d like to receive this update via email, check out our website and subscribe!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Shale Law Weekly Review - January 7, 2020

Written by:
Jackie Schweichler – Staff Attorney
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
Water Quality: Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality Publishes Report on Pavillion Water Wells
On December 23, 2019, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) published findings as part of the investigation into the drinking water wells in Pavillion, Wyoming.  The report is entitled, Final Pavillion, Wyoming Gas Field Domestic Water Wells Report on Recommendations for Further Investigation Pavillion, Wyoming.  In the report, WDEQ focused on two recommendations, including additional sampling for bacterial populations which involved evaluating geochemical/biomarkers such as total dissolved solids, sulfide, and methane.  The report also analyzed water samples for volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds, and organochlorine pesticides in order to “achieve lower method detection limits.”   This report was prepared as a response to two of the ten recommendations presented in WDEQ’s 2016 Final Report.  The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will analyze the remaining recommendations. 

Methane Emissions: New Mexico Releases Report on Methane Emissions Reduction Strategy
On December 19, 2019, the New Mexico Methane Advisory Panel released their draft technical report describing potential strategies for methane reduction in the state.  The Methane Advisory Panel consists of 27 individuals representing members of the oil and gas industry, technical laboratory professionals, university researchers, and environmental organizations.  The report was prepared in response to New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Executive Order to create a regulatory framework to reduce methane emissions. The report addresses pneumatic controllers, leak detection and repair, dehydration units, compressors and engines, venting and flaring, and storage.  For each section, the report addresses the process, equipment, costs involved, sources of emissions, implementation, challenges, and the potential path forward.

National Energy Policy: Global Energy Institute Publishes Report on Impact of National Hydraulic Fracturing Ban
On December 19, 2019, the Global Energy Institute (GEI) published a new analysis of the potential impact of a hydraulic fracturing ban.  The report was prepared as a response to statements made by presidential candidates that they intend to ban hydraulic fracturing if elected.  GEI examined the benefits of hydraulic fracturing and analyzed the impact of a ban on energy security, manufacturing, the overall U.S. economy, and individual states.  The report states than a hydraulic fracturing ban would phase out 19 million jobs by 2025 and “reduce the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $7.1 trillion.”  According to GEI, during that time frame Pennsylvania would lose 600,000 jobs and residents would experience a cumulative cost-of-living increase of $4,654.  The report is entitled, “What if Hydraulic Fracturing was Banned? The Economic Benefits of the Shale Revolution and the Consequences of Ending It.”

Pipelines: Ohio Court Affirms Dismissal of Lawsuit Against Rover Pipeline
On December 9, 2019, the Court of Appeals Stark County, Ohio Fifth Appellate District issued an opinion affirming the dismissal of a lawsuit against Rover Pipeline, LLC (Rover) (State of Ohio ex rel. Yost v. Rover Pipeline, L.L.C., 2019-Ohio-5179).  The State of Ohio brought this lawsuit alleging that Rover had illegally released millions of gallons of drilling fluids into state waters during construction of the Rover Pipeline.  Ohio alleged that Rover violated Ohio’s water quality standards and failed to obtain the necessary permits and certification.  Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), projects that will affect water quality are subject to section §401 Water Quality Certification by the state.  In response, Rover argued that states must act within one year of receiving an application for certification in order to preserve their CWA authority. The court found that Ohio did not act within one year and, accordingly, dismissed the lawsuit.  In the present order, the appeals court affirmed the dismissal, stating that Ohio waived its rights under the CWA. 

International Development: European Commission Publishes European Green Deal
On December 11, 2019, the European Commission unveiled The European Green Deal, a strategy aimed at combating climate and environmental challenges.  The strategy includes new objectives for emissions reductions and directs the Commission to propose a new European “Climate Law” by March 2020.  The plan emphasizes transitioning energy reliance to renewable and sustainable alternative fuels.  The strategy also recommends the cessation of fossil fuel subsidies and directs the Commission to close tax loopholes for aviation and maritime fuels.  
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
National Regulatory Actions
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Pennsylvania State Senate 
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive ShaleLaw HotLinks:
"
US Crude Imports Fall to Lowest Point Since 1994: EIA” - S&P Global
Connect with us on Facebook! Every week we will post the CASL Ledger which details all our publications and activities from the week.
Want to get updates, but prefer to listen? Check out the Shale Law Podcast! We can always be found on our Libsyn page, iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.
Check out the December Agricultural Law Brief ! Each month we compile the most significant legal developments in agriculture. If you’d like to receive this update via email, check out our website and subscribe!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Shale Law Weekly Review - January 3, 2020

Written by:
Jackie Schweichler – Staff Attorney

The following information is an update of recent local, state, national and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.

GHG Emissions: Board Approves Pennsylvania Regulations on Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Oil and Gas Infrastructure
On December 17, 2019, the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board approved proposed regulations affecting oil and natural gas infrastructure in order to reduce volatile organic compound emissions. (25 Pa. Code Chapters 121 and 129).  The regulations, Control of VOC Emissions from Oil and Natural Gas Sources, were proposed as part of Pennsylvania’s plan to meet climate change goals.  Affected infrastructure under the proposal would include pneumatic controllers, diaphragm pumps, compressors, and storage vessels but would exclude storage infrastructure used in distribution.  Oil and gas operators would be required to adopt reasonably available control technology and would need to perform regular inspections for leak detection and repair.  Public hearings will be scheduled, and the 60-day public comment period will open in 2020. 

Pipelines: Federal Court Dismisses Delaware Riverkeeper’s Appeal of Millennium Pipeline Permit
On December 18, 2019, the United State Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s (Riverkeeper) petition to review a permit granted by New York to Millennium Pipeline Company, LLC.  (Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 17-3895-ag).  A state Pollution Discharge Elimination System general permit was granted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for Millennium’s Eastern System Upgrade Project.  Riverkeeper argued that the permit should be vacated because DEC failed to provide notice and opportunity for comment.  In this ruling, the court dismissed the petition for review as moot.  According to the court, the construction authorized under the permit was completed in August 2019 and, as such, the permit is no longer required. 

Pipelines: FERC Approves Certificate for Adelphia Gateway Project
On December 20, 2019, the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Adelphia Gateway, LLC’s (Adelphia) request for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to construct a new interstate pipeline system, known as the Adelphia Gateway Project.  Adelphia plans to replace a pipeline system built in 1970 by Interstate Energy and to construct new pipeline and necessary facilities.  The project will consist of 84.2 miles of 18-inch-diameter pipe reaching from Delaware County, Pennsylvania to Northampton County, Pennsylvania.  The project encompasses additional facilities, including several meter stations and compressor stations.  According to FERC, the approved certificate does “not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.”

LNG Infrastructure: PHMSA Grants Special Permit for LNG Rail Tank Transportation
On December 5, 2019, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) granted a special permit to allow the transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail tank car.  The special permit authorizes Transport Solutions, LLC to transport LNG in rail tank cars from Wyalusing, PA and Gibbstown, NJ.  Under the permit, Transport Solutions is required to provide emergency response training on known hazards, and the company must also “monitor each tank car for pressure, location, and leaks.”  In October 2019, PHMSA published a related proposed rule which would allow for bulk transportation of LNG in rail tank cars.  According to PHMSA, this rule would promote industry development and maintain transportation safety levels.  The comment period for the proposed rule, Hazardous Materials: Liquefied Natural Gas by Rail, closed on December 23, 2019.

Methane Emissions: Researchers Examine Power Sector Emissions Relating to U.S. Policy Timelines
On December 16, 2019, the Environmental Research Letters journal published a study on the carbon dioxide emissions reduction needed to meet climate policy targets.  According to the study, substituting natural gas for coal has contributed to reductions in carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. power sector.  The researchers note, however, that natural gas leakage minimizes potential carbon dioxide reductions and the extent of natural gas leakage affects climate policy targets.  According to the researchers, in order to meet 2030 policy goals, the United States would need a drastic shift to carbon-free sources.  Alternatively, the United States could continue natural gas reliance and focus equally on minimizing methane leakage and reducing carbon dioxide.  The study is entitled Timelines for Mitigating the Methane Impacts of Using Natural Gas for Carbon Dioxide Abatement

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Charles Sartain, Oil Field Services: What is the Status of Mineral Lien Waivers (Dec. 31, 2019)
Nick McTyre,
LNG Update: U.S. Eases Restrictions on Small-Scale LNG Export Projects (Dec. 11, 2019)
John McFarland,
More Focus on Environmental Consequences of Methane Emissions (Dec. 16, 2019)

Connect with us on Facebook! Every week we will post the CASL Ledger which details all our publications and activities from the week.
Want to get updates, but prefer to listen? Check out the Shale Law Podcast! We can always be found on our Libsyn page, iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.
Check out the December Agricultural Law Brief ! Each month we compile the most significant legal developments in agriculture. If you’d like to receive this update via email, check out our website and subscribe!