Monday, December 2, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - December 2, 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.
Public Lands: BLM Publishes Draft Environmental Impact Statement for National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska
On November 25, 2019, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published notice of availability of a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A) in Alaska. The NPR-A is located on Alaska’s North Slope region and includes 23 million acres.  The draft EIS includes four management options with analysis on oil and gas exploration, development, and transportation.  One option would include maintaining the current oil and gas leasing acreage of 11.8 million acres.  Another option would decrease the amount of land leasing availability to 11.4 million acres. The other two options would increase the leasing acreage to 17.1 or 18.3 million.  The public comment period will close January 21, 2020. 

Municipal Regulation:  California Restaurants File Lawsuit Against Berkeley for Natural Gas Infrastructure Ban
On November 21, 2019, the California Restaurant Association (CRA) filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the City of Berkeley to oppose the city’s recently passed natural gas infrastructure ban (California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkeley, 3:19-cv-07668-SK).  The new law, Prohibition of Natural Gas Infrastructure in New Buildings, was passed in July 2019 and will go into effect on January 1, 2020.  The law prohibits the installation of natural gas infrastructure in new building construction, with limited exceptions.   According to the city, substituting electric for gas appliances will address the problem of climate change and improve air quality in homes.  CRA argues, however, that the law negatively affects restaurants and chefs who need flames in order to create a variety of culinary dishes.  CRA states that restaurant owners may be dissuaded from moving, upgrading their buildings, or opening new restaurants. 

Methane Emissions: States and Senators Submit Comments on Proposed Emission Standards Rule
On November 22, 2019, several states submitted comments on the proposed rule, Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources Review.  The stated purpose of the proposed rule is to amend new source performance standards (NSPS) to remove “regulatory duplication” while maintaining current emission sources protections.  According to the states’ comments, the proposed rule is arbitrary and capricious in failing to consider the impact of the rule on existing oil and natural gas industry sources.  In addition, the states assert that the proposed rule violates the Clean Air Act and would increase methane emissions.  Similarly, on November 25, 2019, Senators Whitehouse, Duckworth, Van Hollen, and Merkley submitted comments on the proposed rule.  The senators also argue that the rule is arbitrary and capricious and would serve to create higher methane emissions. 

Production and Operation: Cleveland State University Provides an Analysis on Investment in the Ohio Oil and Gas Sector for Q3 and Q4 of 2018
On November 12, 2019, the Energy Policy Center at Cleveland State University published a report about Utica shale-related investment in Ohio for the period from July 1 to December 31, 2018. The report provides essential data and separate analysis on investment made for the three major oil and gas sectors: upstream, midstream and downstream. According to the report, there has been a 25% decrease in upstream investment with fewer wells drilled compared to the first quarter of the year 2018; however, data shows that production is still increasing. Despite very little investment made in the midstream and downstream sectors, the report indicated some increased activity and new pipeline or power generation plant projects that will be included in future 2019 reports. Overall, total investment from the third to fourth quarter of 2018 represents $3.8 billion. 
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Georges A. Bibikos, At the Well Weekly (Nov. 22, 2019)
U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions rose in 2018 for the first year since 2014 (Nov. 26, 2019)
U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. average gasoline prices this week are similar to the previous two Thanksgivings (Nov. 27, 2019)
National Regulatory Actions:
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Environmental Protection Agency
Pennsylvania Legislation:
Senate Bill 967: this bill would mandate all major facilities to establish and maintain a municipal notification plan in order to alert the public in case of an air pollution incident (Referred to Environmental Resources and Energy; Nov. 25, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Environmental Protection
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 November 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 25, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - November 25, 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.
Municipal Regulation: Town of Brookline, Massachusetts Prohibits New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure for Building Construction
On November 21, 2019, the Town of Brookline, Massachusetts, adopted Article 21 amending the Town General By-Laws and prohibiting the use of fossil fuel infrastructure meant for major renovation or new building projects.  It is specified in Article 21 that such prohibition applies only to renovation in which more than 50% of the surface of the building undergoes renovation. Article 21 provides for some exceptions, including fuel for backup generators and portable propane.  According to the explanation published on the town’s website, this ban aims to protect citizens from potential fuel leaks that could result in an explosion and air pollution.  In addition, the change is meant to reduce carbon emissions in order to meet the goals set forth in its Climate Action Plan. 

Infrastructure: Wisconsin Governor Signs Bill Establishing Trespass of Energy Critical Infrastructure as a Criminal Offense
On November 20, 2019, Governor Tony Evers of Wisconsin signed into law Assembly Bill 426, now known as Act 33, creating a new criminal offense for trespassing onto the property of an energy provider.  Act 33 defines “energy provider property” as “property that is part of an electric, natural gas, oil, petroleum, refined petroleum product, renewable fuel, water, or chemical generation, transmission, or distribution system and that is owned, leased, or operated by an energy provider.”  Anyone who unlawfully enters an energy provider property can be convicted of a Class H felony, and the offender may face imprisonment of up to six years and/or a fine of up to $10,000. 

LNG Exports: FERC Issues Final Environmental Impact Statement for Jordan Cove LNG Project
On November 15, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed Jordan Cove LNG project located across the North Spit of Coos Bay in Oregon.  The project entails the construction of five liquefaction trains, each with a capacity to export up to 1.5 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of liquefied natural gas and will operate through a federally owned 7-mile channel.  FERC concluded that this project would create adverse consequences to the environment, but that they could be avoided or minimized if properly addressed. 

GHG Emissions: UN Environment Program Publishes Report Assessing Global Community Strategy to Limit Fossil Fuel Production
The United Nations Environment Program, together with five other European and International partners, recently published the Production Gap Report as part of their overall evaluation of the international community’s effort to tackle climate change.  The report found that different strategies implemented by governments to reduce fossil fuel use is not in line with fossil fuel production targets set in the Paris Climate Agreement.  In order to meet those goals, the report encourages governments to adopt “supply-side” policies instead of “demand-side” measures as their best option to restrict growth in fossil fuel production. 

Induced Seismicity: New Study Establishes a Link Between Hydraulic Fracturing and Seismic Activity in the Eagle Ford Shale Play
On November 13, 2019, Geophysical Research Letters published a new study suggesting that there is a direct correlation between hydraulic fracturing operations in the Eagle Ford Shale Play and an increase of seismic activity in that region from 2014 to 2018.  According to the study, during that time frame, approximately 90 earthquakes with a magnitude of 2.0, or greater, were the result of hydraulic fracturing activities.  The researchers suggest that the probability of induced seismicity from hydraulic fracturing is most closely related to factors including “proximity to faults, orientation of faults in the stress field, effective injection rate, injected volume and number of laterals on a well pad.”  The study is entitled “Hydraulic Fracture Injection Strategy Influences the Probability of Earthquakes in the Eagle Ford Shale Play of South Texas.”
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
John McFarland, Two Fun Resources (Nov. 14, 2019)
National Legislation
Environmental Protection Agency
Pennsylvania Legislation
House Bill 476: this bill would require DEP to forward notices of noncompliance issued by EPA for violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) or Solid Waste Management Act (SWMA) to the municipality where the violation occurred (First consideration; Nov. 19, 2019)
Senate Bill 950: this bill would authorize DEP to conduct a public comment process on and submit to the General Assembly a measure or action intended to abate, control or limit carbon dioxide emissions by imposing a revenue-generating tax or fee on carbon dioxide emissions.
Senate Bill 694: this bill would allow well bores to cross multiple units (Signed by Governor; Nov. 7, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Department of Environmental Protection
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 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!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - November 19, 2019

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.
State Regulation: Pennsylvania Governor Signs Bill Allowing Horizontal Cross Unit Drilling
On November 7, 2019, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a new law which amends the Oil and Gas Lease Act and authorizes operators to drill horizontally across multiple units.  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.  The new law does not allow drilling where the lease terms specifically prohibit cross unit drilling.  This law will be codified as section 2.2 of the Oil and Gas Lease Act.  Previously, in 2013, the Oil and Gas Lease Act was amended to add section 2.1, which effectively allows operators to act as if they have pooled together several tracts, even when those leases have no pooling clause.

Production and Operation: EIA Releases Reports Estimating Natural Gas Production in the United States
On November 13, 2019, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released the November Short-Term Energy Outlook.  The report estimates that dry natural gas production in the United States will increase 10% from 2018 levels to reach 92.1 billion cubic feet per day in 2019.  Liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports are also expected to increase in 2019 to average 4.7 Bcf/d and to reach 6.4 Bcf/d in 2020.  In addition, EIA released an analysis of their Heating Oil and Propane Update, published on November 14, 2019.  EIA states that heating oil prices are expected to be 10% lower and propane prices 22% lower for the 2019/2020 winter heating season.

Pipelines: Public Hearing Held in North Dakota to Discuss Dakota Access Pipeline Expansion
On November 13, 2019, the North Dakota Public Service Commission held a public hearing to allow members of the public to comment on plans to increase pipeline capacity for the Dakota Access Pipeline project.  The hearing was held in Linton and live-streamed through the Commission’s website.  Prior to the hearing, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe released a pre-hearing brief.  According to the Tribe, expanding the pipeline capacity high velocity pumping would increase the likelihood and severity of negative repercussions.  According to Dakota Access, this project does not require mainline construction, and instead the company intends to add horsepower and upgrades to pump stations.

Pipelines: Michigan Attorney General Appeals Court Ruling Involving Enbridge Energy Line 5 Pipeline
On November 5, 2019, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel appealed the decision of the Michigan Court of Claims involving the Enbridge Energy Line 5 pipeline project.  In March, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered state agencies to cease implementation of Public Act 359.  The Act allows for the creation of a utility tunnel between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan in the Straits of Mackinac.  The Governor based the decision on the Attorney General’s determination that the Act violated the state constitution’s Title Object Clause.  The Court of Claims decision, issued on October 31, 2019, found that the law was not unconstitutional.    
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Georges A. Bibikos, At the Well Weekly (Nov. 15, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Department of Environmental Protection
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 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!

- Updated: November 22, 2019

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!