Monday, November 11, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - November 11, 2019

Written by:
Chloe Marie – Research Specialist
Jackie Schweichler – Staff Attorney
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
National Energy Policy: United States Initiates Withdrawal Process from the Paris Agreement
On November 2, 2019, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement that the Department of State formally notified the United Nations that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement.  According to Secretary Pompeo, the United States will be officially out of the agreement within one year after the delivery of the notification. U.S. President Donald Trump first indicated his intention to withdraw from the agreement on June 1, 2017, arguing that the agreement puts the country at a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace.  Secretary Pompeo added, however, that the United States will continue to participate in discussions on clean energy sources and technologies. 

Pipelines: Appeals Court Denies Rehearing for PennEast Pipeline
On November 5, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied a petition for rehearing requested by the PennEast Pipeline Company.  The PennEast Pipeline is a 118-mile expansion project designed to transport Marcellus Shale gas through southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  PennEast was granted approval for the project by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in January 2018.  Following a series of legal challenges, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that PennEast Pipeline Company is barred by the 11th amendment from condemning properties along the pipeline route that are controlled by the state of New Jersey. 

Induced Seismicity: United Kingdom Announces Permanent Shutdown of Hydraulic Fracturing in England
On November 2, 2019, United Kingdom Business and Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom announced in a press release the cessation of hydraulic fracturing activities in England.  This decision follows the release of an interim report by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), which provides a scientific analysis and interpretation of data collected in the course of Cuadrilla’s drilling operations at the Preston New Road (PNR) site.  OGA commissioned multiple independent researchers to analyze the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and induced seismicity at PNR.  The interim report concluded that “[t]he methods for predicting event maximum and magnitude need further testing and cannot be viewed as reliable for [Preston New Road].”  Consequently, Secretary Leadsom declared that the ban will be implemented for an indefinite term until the government is provided with new scientific evidence that hydraulic fracturing is safe.  In addition, the government announced that it will not pursue its proposed planning reforms for shale gas exploration. 

Methane Emissions: Study Examines Methane Point-Source Emissions in California
On November 6, 2019, the Nature Research Journal published a study examining point-source emissions in California.  The study, California’s Methane Super-Emitters, used airborne imaging spectrometry between 2016 and 2018.  The researchers were able to detect, identify, and quantify 564 methane point sources.  According to the study, the majority, or 41%, of California’s point-source emissions emanate from landfills.  The researchers estimate that dairies account for 26% and the oil and gas sector contributes 26% of methane point-source emissions.  
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Georges A. Bibikos, At the Well Weekly (Nov. 1, 2019)
John McFarland, How Fracking Works (Nov. 4, 2019)
National Legislation
Land Management Bureau
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Department of Environmental Protection
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 October 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!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - November 4, 2019

Written by:
Chloe Marie – Research Specialist
Jackie Schweichler – Staff Attorney
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
Production and Operation: Pennsylvania Legislature Passes Bill Allowing Horizontal Cross-Tract Drilling
On October 30, 2019, the Pennsylvania legislature passed Senate Bill No. 694, which would amend the Oil and Gas Lease Act and authorize operators to drill horizontal wellbores across multiple leased tracts.  This law would apply only where the operator has a lease with the landowner of each tract, and the operator is required to allocate production among the various landowners.  SB 694 has been presented to Governor Tom Wolf but has not yet been signed.  If signed, SB 694 would become effective sixty days from enactment. 

Pipelines: Landowners Request FERC to Enjoin Construction of Spire Pipeline 
On October 21, 2019, a group of landowners known as the Impacted Spire Landowners filed a complaint before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission against Spire STL Pipeline, LLC, challenging the construction of the Spire Pipeline.  The Spire Pipeline is a 65-mile steel underground pipeline project that would connect with the existing Rockies Express Pipeline located in Scott County, Illinois.  The pipeline is designed to transport natural gas through the counties of Scott, Greene and Jersey in Illinois and the counties of St. Charles and St. Louis in Missouri.  In this case, plaintiffs allege that the company violated FERC’s certificate to construct and operate the Spire Pipeline and that these violations have led to “irreversible mixing of topsoil with subsoils, contamination of water supply, and flooding and erosion outside the limits of the pipeline easement, resulting in millions of dollars of damage to landowners.”  Plaintiffs asked FERC to halt construction of the project until environmental remediations have been completed and the matter has been resolved. 

Royalties: Mineral Owners File a Class Action Lawsuit Against Oil & Gas Company for Royalty Payments Disagreement 
On October 18, 2019, mineral rights owners in Columbiana and Carroll Counties, Ohio, filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio against EAP Ohio, LLC, (EAP) seeking damages for alleged breach of royalty clauses in their oil and gas leases (Zehentbauer Family Land LP et al. v. EAP Ohio, LLC et al., No. 4:19-cv-02434).  Plaintiffs argued that EAP has consistently deducted post-production costs when calculating royalties, despite being barred in writing from doing so in their individual leases.  Plaintiffs claim that it is plainly stated in the lease that only imposed taxes/fees from the government can be withheld from the royalties.

Production and Operation: Study Reports that Increase in U.S. Natural Gas Production Led to $1.1 Trillion in Natural Gas Savings from 2008 to 2018
On October 21, 2019, the Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program published a study entitled Natural Gas Savings to End-Users: 2008-2018, A Technical Briefing Paper.  Researchers found that U.S. natural gas consumers saved about $1.1 trillion over the last decade in natural gas expenses, averaging about $4,000 per household.  According to the study, these savings are largely due to an increase in natural gas production, and especially due to horizontal drilling, which mostly took place in the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.  The study suggests that natural gas production from these states accounts for 85% of the natural gas production growth in the United States from 2008 to 2018. 
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
John McFarland, The Railroad Commission and the Coal Industry (Oct. 30, 2019)
John McFarland, Arkansas Case On Post-Production Costs (Oct. 29, 2019)
National Legislation
Environmental Protection Agency
Pennsylvania Legislation 
Senate Bill 694: bill would allow well bores to cross multiple units (Presented to Governor; Oct. 30, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Department of Environmental Protection
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 October 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 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - October 28, 2019

Written by:
Chloe Marie – Research Specialist
Jackie Schweichler – Staff Attorney
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
Pipelines: FERC Orders Immediate Suspension of All Construction Activities Relating to the Mountain Valley Pipeline
On October 15, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a cease work order for certain activities relating to the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline following a stay of the 2017 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Wild Virginia, Inc. v. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, No. 19-1866).  The court issued the stay on October 11, 2019, to allow FWS and FERC to have a re-consultation to discuss project impacts on wildlife species.  Along with the stay, the court will hold the case in abeyance until January 2020.  This cease work order is immediate, but FERC will allow Mountain Valley to pursue any activity relating to right-of-way restoration and work area stabilization as long as such activity does not further impact wildlife species.  In addition, Mountain Valley must provide an updated interim right-of-way and work area stabilization plan for review and approval from the Director of the Office of Energy Projects.

Pipelines: South Dakota and ACLU Agree to Settlement in Riot Boosting Case
On October 24, 2019, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation and South Dakota agreed to a stipulated settlement agreement relating to the state’s riot boosting statute (Dakota Rural Action v. Noem, 5:19-cv-5026-LLP).  The settlement allows some portions of the South Dakota statute to remain in effect, but it declares that other sections will not be enforced.  This agreement closely follows an order issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota Western Division which temporarily enjoined the statute.  According to the court, these riot-boosting statutes were enacted by the South Dakota legislature as a way to address the costs of anticipated rioting resulting from construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.  For more information on the original South Dakota law, see the Shale Law in the Spotlight - South Dakota Governor Signs Pipeline Protest Legislative Package into Law

National Energy Policy: PHMSA Proposes Rulemaking Authorizing Shipment of LNG by Rail 
On October 24, 2019, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), together with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), published a proposed rule which would amend regulations relating to the transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG).  Currently, under the Hazardous Materials Regulations, LNG may not be transported in rail tank cars without a special permit issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT).  According to PHMSA, the number of LNG facilities in the U.S. has grown by 28.7 percent in the past decade, prompting a need for additional methods for LNG transportation.  The proposed rule would authorize the shipment of LNG by rail tank cars that meet certain DOT specifications.  This proposed rulemaking follows an Executive Order signed by President Trump on April 10, 2019, directing the Secretary of Transportation to update the Hazardous Materials Regulations to promote and expand the transportation infrastructure.

Climate Change: U.S. Supreme Court Declined to Hear Appeal in Climate Change Lawsuit 
On October 22, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland’s order to remand a case addressing climate change to state court (BP P.L.C. v. Mayor & City of Baltimore, No. 19A368).  In this case, the mayor and City of Baltimore filed a complaint in July 2018 before the Circuit Court for Baltimore City against 26 energy companies, including BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell Oil, and Exxon Mobil, seeking to hold them responsible for damages caused by global warming. The plaintiffs allege that these companies were aware of the dangers of greenhouse gas pollution contributed by fossil fuels and yet these companies engaged in efforts to conceal this danger.  Defendants Chevron Corp. and Chevron U.S.A., Inc. removed the case from state court to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland . Plaintiffs filed a motion to remand the case to state court in September 2018 arguing that the city sought relief only under state law.  The U.S. District Court granted remand on June 10, 2019.  On June 13, 2019, defendants appealed the remand order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and filed a motion to stay the order until the Court of Appeals issued its ruling.  The U.S. Court of Appeals denied the motion for a stay on October 1, 2019, and defendants subsequently filed an appeal of the remand order with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Wildlife Habitat: Federal District Court in Idaho Enjoins the 2019 BLM Sage-Grouse Plan Amendments from Becoming Effective for Six Western States
On October 16, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho issued an order granting a preliminary injunction to prevent the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from implementing the 2019 BLM Sage-Grouse Plan Amendments for the states of Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Nevada/Northeastern California, until the court resolves the case (Western Watersheds Project et al. v. Schneider et al., No. 1:16-cv-00083).  In early 2016, the Western Watersheds Project, Wildearth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity and Prairie Hills Audubon Society brought a legal action against BLM challenging numerous Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) governing western states.  This matter, however, was put on hold following President Trump’s order to review and revise the 2015 BLM-Sage Grouse Plans.  In March 2019, BLM issued amendments to the 2015 BLM-Sage Grouse Plans as well as six EISs for Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Nevada/Northeastern California.  On April 19, 2019, plaintiffs sought a preliminary ruling from the court to enjoin the six EISs from becoming effective. According to plaintiffs, BLM did not consider the science behind sage-grouse and thus failed to fully evaluate the environmental consequences of such amendments in its analysis. 
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Georges A. Bibikos, At the Well Weekly (October 18, 2019)
National Legislation
Engineers Corps
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
Pennsylvania Legislation 
Senate Bill 694: this bill would allow well bores to cross multiple units (in the House, first consideration & laid on the table; Oct. 22, 2019)
Senate Bill 790: this bill would create separate regulations for conventional oil and gas operations (referred to Environmental Resources and Energy on Oct. 22, 2019)
Senate Bill 258: this bill would require public utility facilities to meet with the county emergency coordinator in the event of a natural gas spill (laid on the table & removed Oct. 23, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Department of Environmental Protection
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 September 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!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - October 21, 2019

Written by:
Chloe Marie – Research Specialist 
Jackie Schweichler – Staff Attorney
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
Pipelines: U.S. Court of Appeals Issues Stay in Case Relating to the Mountain Valley Pipeline
On October 11, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit stayed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Biological Opinion (BiOp) and Incidental Take Statement (ITS) issued in November 2017 for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline project, pending the outcome of the case before the court (Wild Virginia, Inc. v. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, No. 19-1866).  On August 21, 2019, a group of environmental organizations petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals, seeking judicial review of these two FWS documents.  The petitioners filed a motion for a stay of the documents to halt construction on the pipeline. The petitioners argue that FWS failed to consider certain aspects in their analysis that would significantly affect several threatened and endangered species, including the Indiana and Northern long-eared bat species and Roanoke logperch.  Following the petitioner’s motion, FWS requested an official re-consultation with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to discuss project impacts on wildlife species including the candy darter, Roanoke logperch, Indiana bat, and Northern long-eared bat.  The Court of Appeals granted the petitioner’s stay and will hold the case in abeyance until January 11, 2020, to allow for the agencies' re-consultation. 

Pipelines: New Jersey DEP Denies Land Use Permits for the Construction of the PennEast Pipeline
On October 8, 2019, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) denied PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC’s application for a Freshwater Wetlands Individual Permit and Water Quality Certification necessary for the construction of the PennEast Pipeline.  The PennEast Pipeline is a 118-mile expansion project designed to transport Marcellus Shale gas in southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  DEP Director of the Division of Land Use Regulation Diane Dow explained the decision a letter sent to PennEast.  According to Director Dow, this decision was based on a recent court ruling issued on September 10, 2019, from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  The court found that PennEast Pipeline Company is barred by the 11th amendment from condemning properties along the pipeline route that are controlled by the state of New Jersey (In re: PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC, No. 19-1191 thru 19-1232).  

Public Lands: California Passes Law Prohibiting Oil and Gas Leasing on State-Owned Lands
On October 12, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill No. 342 barring any future oil and gas development projects on California’s public lands.  More specifically, AB 342 prevents any state department, agency or other entity from entering into a new lease agreement or conveyance of the lands allowing the construction and operation of oil and gas infrastructure on state property.  AB 342, however, will not prohibit any maintenance work activity or repair necessary for the safe operation of an existing pipeline or other oil and gas-related infrastructure, or any activity necessary to transport oil and gas from state lands or waters.  In addition, the bill clarifies that the validity of all leases that are in effect as of January 1, 2020, would not be impacted by the legislation.  According to the governor, the new bill will help “refocus the state’s geologic energy division to better consider public health.”

Induced Seismicity: Study Examines Induced Seismicity and Hydraulic Fracturing in Texas
On October 14, 2019, the Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth published a study regarding induced seismicity entitled Improving absolute earthquake location in west Texas using probabilistic, proxy ground-truth station corrections.  The study examines the Delaware Basin in western Texas using data from the TexNet seismic-monitoring program.  In the study, the researchers “statistically associate earthquakes in space and time to fracturing activity.”  The study concludes that it is more likely that some recent seismic activity in Texas is due to hydraulic fracturing, rather than wastewater disposal wells.  TexNet was created as a response by the Texas legislature to study the increase in earthquakes experienced in the state since 2009. 

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Federal Actions and Notices
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Land Management Bureau
Pennsylvania Legislation 
Senate Bill 694: this bill would allow well bores to cross multiple units (referred to Environmental Resources and Energy on Oct. 15, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Department of Environmental Protection

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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 September 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!