Friday, November 20, 2020

Shale Law Weekly Review - November 20, 2020

Written by: 
Jackie Schweichler – Staff Attorney
Sarah Straub – Research Assistant 

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

Pipelines: Court of Appeals Issues Stay for Mountain Valley Pipeline NWP12 Permits 
On November 9, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued an order granting petitioners’ motions to stay water crossing permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project.  The administrative stay will temporarily block the Nationwide Permit 12 which was reissued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on September 25, 2020.  The court did not explain its reasoning for granting the stay, but it will issue an opinion on this matter at a later time.  Audio for the oral argument on the motion is available here

Municipal Regulation: San Francisco Bars Use of Natural Gas in New Construction 
On November 10, 2020, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to amend its building code to bar the use of natural gas in new construction.  The amended ordinance will require that new construction utilize only electric power for stoves, furnaces, and water heaters.  The change was prompted by the City’s decision to explore more environmentally friendly “green building standards” and to implement electric power standards in the building code.

Pipelines: Minnesota Agency Issues Water Quality Certification for Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project 
On November 12, 2020, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued its approval for Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 pipeline replacement project to move forward.  MPCA issued what it describes in its statement as “its most stringent 401 water quality certification to date” along with approval for a capped air emissions permit and a NPDES wastewater permit.  In the 401 Water Quality Certification, MPCA found that the pipeline replacement project meets the state’s antidegradation standards and that Enbridge has verified that it will complete construction activities in a manner that maintains water quality standards.  MPCA imposed several conditions relating to construction and stream crossings, taking additional measures at already impaired waters, rice waters, and during certain seasons, and requiring that Enbridge undertake compensatory mitigation for impacted wetlands and streams.  Enbridge must also pay for independent, third-party environmental monitors who will be responsible for ensuring that the provisions in MPCA’s permits are followed while Enbridge completes the Line 3 replacement project. 

Pipelines: Revolution Pipeline Barred from Transporting Gas Until Steep Slopes Stabilized 
On November 11, 2020, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an order preventing the Revolution Pipeline in western Pennsylvania from being filled with natural gas before certain areas along the pipeline with steep slopes are made stable enough to prevent landslides.  DEP’s order prohibits the pipeline from transporting natural gas until DEP approves Stability Analyses and Permanent Stabilization Plans to prevent landslides, erosion, and other nuisances.  These requirements come as a result of a landslide which occurred along the pipeline in September 2018 that caused the pipeline to break leading to the ignition of the pipeline and destruction of nearby forested areas, a home, barn, and several vehicles.  The Consent Order and Agreement resulting from the incident imposed a $30.6 million civil penalty on the pipeline for its violations. 

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts: 
George A. Bibikos, At the Well Weekly, Art. I, sec. 27 (Nov. 6, 2020) 
Charles Sartain, A Unique Discovery Request in a Texas Water Rights Fight (Nov. 11, 2020)
Michael Burger, Book Launch: Combating Climate Change With Section 115 Of The Clean Air Act (Nov. 9, 2020) 
Amy Turner, What Biden’s Climate Plans Might Mean For Cities (Nov. 13, 2020)

AGENCY PRESS RELEASES - STATE/FEDERAL

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Press Releases:

DEP Orders ETC Northeast Pipeline to Keep Natural Gas out of Unstable Sections of Revolution Pipeline (Nov. 12, 2020)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency News Releases: 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Continue to Decline as the American Economy Flourishes Under the Trump Administration (Nov. 9, 2020)

STATE ACTIONS - EXECUTIVE/LEGISLATIVE

Pennsylvania Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 50, No. 45—Nov. 14, 2020): : 

50 Pa.B. 6516, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, “Tentative Order; Implementation of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act of 2004: Standards for the Participation of Demand Side Management Resources—Technical Reference Manual 2021 Update; Doc. No. M-2019-3006867” (Nov. 14, 2020).

Pennsylvania Legislature:

HB 247 “An Act amending Title 58 (Oil and Gas) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in development, further providing for well permits.” Removed from the table (Nov. 12, 2020)

FEDERAL ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE/LEGISLATIVE

Federal Executive Agencies (Federal Register Nov. 9-13, 2020): 

Energy Department: 

85 FR 71334 Notice of orders, “Notice of Orders Issued Under Section 3 of the Natural Gas Act During September 2020” (Nov. 9, 2020). 

85 FR 72643 Notice of Application “Southern LNG Company, L.L.C.; Application To Amend Export Term Through December 31, 2050, for Existing Non-Free Trade Agreement Authorization” (Nov. 13, 2020). 

Environmental Protection Agency

85 FR 72649 Notice “Environmental Impact Statements; Notice of Availability” (Nov. 13, 2020). 

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

85 FR 72647 Notice—Comment Period “Citizens S-Line Transmission LLC ; Notice of Petition for Declaratory Order” (Nov. 13, 2020). 

House Energy and Commerce Committee Actions:

H.R. 8746 “To establish a Restore Employment in Natural and Environmental Work Conservation Corps in the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, and in addition to the Committees on Agriculture, Energy and Commerce, and Transportation and Infrastructure (Nov. 12, 2020). 

Follow us on Twitter @AgShaleLaw—Top #ShaleLaw HotLinks Nov. 9-13, 2020: 
Biden Looks To Restore, Expand Obama Administration Policies, AP 
Colorado Regulators Give Initial OK To Ban On Flaring Of Oil, Gas Wells To Curb Methane Pollution, The Denver Post 
Oil Prices in Violently Positive Reaction, Rigzone 
New Oil And Gas Permitting Rule Shows Promising Results In Wyoming, Casper Star Tribune 
No More Natural Gas In New San Francisco Buildings Starting Next Year, San Francisco Chronicle 

Connect with us on Facebook.  Every week we post the CASL Ledger detailing our publications and activities from the week. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Shale Law Weekly Review - November 13, 2020

Written by: 
Jackie Schweichler – Staff Attorney
Sarah Straub – Research Assistant 

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

Methane Emissions: Texas Approves Revisions to Data Sheet to Collect More Information on Flaring 
On November 4, 2020, the Texas Railroad Commission announced that it had approved revisions to the Statewide Rule 32 Exception Data Sheet. The changes were proposed in August and will compel oil and gas operators to more thoroughly document the reasons for which operators determine their need to flare gas.  The new provisions allow the Texas Railroad Commission to assess operator compliance with flaring and venting regulations. The changes will also provide more insight into the practice of flaring and venting by providing a method for collecting critical data points. The new Application for Exception to Statewide Rule 32 form is effective immediately, however operators may continue to use the previous form until April 1, 2021. 

 National Energy Policy: President Issues Memorandum Directing Secretary of Energy to Assess Impacts of Banning Hydraulic Fracturing 
On October 31, 2020, President Donald J. Trump issued a presidential memorandum which directs the Secretary of Energy to submit a report to the President to assess how decreasing or prohibiting hydraulic fracturing would impact American workers, the economy, and national security. The report is due in 70 days and will examine a range of topics including jobs, energy prices, tax revenues, trade, and energy production in Russia and China. The memorandum also reinforces Executive Order 13211, issued by President George W. Bush, which requires executive agencies, upon taking certain actions, to prepare a Statement of Energy Effects when those actions may significantly and adversely impact energy supply, distribution, or use. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette issued a statement that said that “[th]e Department of Energy will swiftly and thoroughly execute our tasks as directed by President Trump.”  

Pipelines: North Dakota Federal Judge Dismisses Dakota Access Pipeline Protestor’s Defamation Suit Against County Law Enforcement
On October 29, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota issued an order dismissing a Dakota Access Pipeline protestor’s defamation and excessive force claims against law enforcement in Morton County, North Dakota while allowing other claims to go forward. In her complaint, filed at 1:18-cv-236, Plaintiff Sophia Wilansky alleged that she was injured in 2016 during a peaceful protest by an explosive munition that was deployed in her direction by law enforcement. She alleged that law enforcement thereafter defamed her by making statements to the press that she was injured by a homemade explosive device rather than through the use of force by police. Wilansky stated in the complaint that, as a result of law enforcement’s statements, she has gained the “undeserved reputation as a violent protestor and would-be terrorist.” In dismissing the excessive force claim, the court found that using non-lethal force to disperse protestors told to move from the area does not shock the conscience, the standard which must be met to maintain an excessive force lawsuit. Further, the court found that the county was not liable under the Monell theory of liability because Wilansky could not show that it was a policy or custom  for county law enforcement to engage in excessive force or that law enforcement engaged in a pattern of excessive force. The defamation claims were dismissed because the court found that the law enforcement officers were entitled to immunity because the statements about Wilansky were made in the course of the officers’ official duties. Wilansky’s other claims relating to excessive force, assault and battery, negligence, and emotional harm were permitted to proceed. 

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts: 
Brett Thornton, Paycheck Protection Program Loan Necessity Questionnaire (Nov. 4, 2020). 
Charles Sartain, Louisiana Oil Pipeline Expropriation System is Constitutional (Nov. 4, 2020). 
Daniel J. Metzger, Sabin Center Launches Climate Attribution Database (Nov. 6, 2020). 

AGENCY PRESS RELEASES—STATE/FEDERAL

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Press Releases:

The Environmental Quality Board Seeks Comments on CO2 Budget Trading Program Regulations (Nov. 6, 2020). 

U.S. Department of Energy Press Releases 

Statement from Secretary Brouillette on the President's Memorandum on Fracking (Oct. 31, 2020). 

U.S. Department of Environmental Protection

U.S. EPA Recognizes Freight Industry Leaders for Environmental Performance New Jersey and New York among the Winners (Nov. 5, 2020). 

U.S. EPA Recognizes Freight Industry Leaders for Environmental Performance (Nov. 5, 2020). 

U.S. EPA Recognizes Freight Industry Leaders in Georgia for Environmental Performance (Nov. 5, 2020). 

U.S. EPA Recognizes Freight Industry Leaders in North Carolina for Environmental Performance (Nov. 5, 2020). 

EPA Recognizes Nine Truck Carriers in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska for Environmental Performance and Energy Efficiency (Nov. 5, 2020). 

EPA Honors Northwest Companies For Top Environmental Performance – Moving More Goods More Miles With Less Energy And Emissions (Nov. 5, 2020). 

U.S. EPA Recognizes Pacific Southwest Freight Industry Leaders for Environmental Performance (Nov. 5, 2020). 

STATE ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE/LEGISLATIVE

Pennsylvania Executive Agencies (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 50, No. 45—Nov. 7, 2020): 

50 Pa.B. 6212, Environmental Quality Board, “CO2  Budget Trading Program” Proposed Rulemaking (Nov. 7, 2020). 

Pennsylvania Legislature:

FEDERAL ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE/LEGISLATIVE

Federal Executive Agencies (Federal Register Nov. 2-6, 2020): 

Environmental Protection Agency

85 FR 69189 Final Rule “NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule-Phase 2 Extension” (Nov. 2, 2020). 

85 FR 70612 Notice—Comments Period “Proposed Information Collection Request; Comment Request; Gathering Data on Results of Newly Required Annual and Triennial Testing To Evaluate the Impacts of U.S. E.P.A.'s 2015 Federal Underground Storage Tank Regulation” (Nov. 5, 2020). 

85 FR 71074 Notice “Environmental Impact Statements; Notice of Availability” (Nov. 6, 2020). 

Energy Department 

85 FR 69608 Notice and request for OMB review and comment “Proposed Agency Information Collection Extension, With Changes” (Nov. 3, 2020). 

Energy Information Administration

85 FR 69609 Notice—Comment Period “Agency Information Collection Extension With Changes” (Nov. 3, 2020). 

85 FR 71063 Notice—Comments Period “Agency Information Collection Extension” (Nov. 6, 2020). 

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

85 FR 69619 Notice —Comments Period “Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America, LLC; Notice of Application and Establishing Intervention Deadline” (Nov. 3, 2020). 

85 FR 69611 Notice —Comments Period “Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, Inc.; Notice of Scoping Period Requesting Comments on Environmental Issues for the Proposed Lines DT and DS Replacement Project Amendment” (Nov. 3, 2020). 

85 FR 69609 Notice—Comments Period “Spire Storage West LLC; Notice of Request for Extension of Time” (Nov. 3, 2020). 

85 FR 70133 Notice—Comments Period “Enable Gas Transmission, LLC; Enable Gulf Run Transmission, LLC; Notice of Availability of the Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Gulf Run Pipeline and Line CP Modifications Project” (Nov. 4, 2020). 

85 FR 70140 Notice—Environmental Assessment “Freeport LNG Development, L.P., FLNG Liquefaction, LLC, FLNG Liquefaction 2, LLC and FLNG Liquefaction 3, LLC; Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review of the Noble Gas Project” (Nov. 4, 2020). 

85 FR 70137 Notice—Comments Period “Gulf South Pipeline Company, LLC; Notice of Request Under Blanket Authorization and Establishing Intervention and Protest Deadline” (Nov. 4, 2020). 

85 FR 70604 Notice—Comments Period “Commission Information Collection Activities (FERC-588); Comment Request; Extension” (Nov. 5, 2020). 

Foreign-Trade Zones Board 

85 FR 71048 Notice—Comments Period “Foreign-Trade Zone 116-Port Arthur, Texas; Application for Subzone; Port Arthur LNG, LLC; Port Arthur and Jefferson County, Texas” (Nov. 6, 2020). 

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

85 FR 70124 Proposed Rule “Pipeline Safety: Midstream Facilities Frequently Asked Questions” (Nov. 4, 2020). 

85 FR 70710 Notice—Comments Period “Pipeline Safety: Request for Special Permit; Columbia Gas Transmission, L.L.C.” (Nov. 5, 2020). 

Executive Office of the President

85 FR 70039 Presidential Document “Protecting Jobs, Economic Opportunities, and National Security for All Americans by Ensuring Appropriate Support of Innovative Technologies for Using Our Domestic Natural Resources” (Nov. 4, 2020). 

Maritime Administration 

85 FR 70707 Notice—Comments Period “Deepwater Port License Application: Blue Marlin Offshore Port, LLC (BMOP)” (Nov. 5, 2020). 

Follow us on Twitter @AgShaleLaw—Top #ShaleLaw HotLinks Nov. 2-6, 2020: 
In Effort To Curb Emissions, State Regulators Probe The Future Of Natural Gas In Massachusetts, Boston Globe 
Environmental Groups Ask Federal Court To Once Again Stop Construction Of The Mountain Valley Pipeline, West Virginia Public Broadcasting 
Exxon Warns of US$30 Billion Shale Writedown Amid Record Loss, Bloomberg News 
Colorado Moves To Eliminate Routine Natural Gas Flaring At Oil Wells, Denver Business Journal 
Nation Sees Its Oil Industry Continuing 10-15 Years, E&E News 

Connect with us on Facebook.  Every week we post the CASL Ledger detailing our publications and activities from the week. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Shale Law Weekly Review - November 9, 2020

Written by: 
Jackie Schweichler – Staff Attorney
Sarah Straub – Research Assistant 

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

Pipelines: Michigan Limits Scope of Hearings on Enbridge Line 5 Tunnel 
On October 23, 2020, the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules issued a ruling on the Motion in Limine submitted by Enbridge to limit the scope and evidence presented in upcoming hearings before the Michigan Public Service Commission regarding construction of Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac.  In the decision, the agency determined that it was necessary for the Commission to consider the Utility Tunnel’s design, construction, and operation in the construction of the pipeline.  The Commission must also consider the Utility Tunnel to determine that Enbridge has undertaken good faith efforts to limit the pipeline’s physical and economic impacts.  Enbridge’s request that the Commission not consider public need and safety issues for the entire length of Line 5 was granted, limiting the scope of the hearing.  The agency’s decision also found that evidence of the environmental impacts of processes related to extracting, refining, or consuming oil was not relevant to the Commission’s consideration of the pipeline as a form of transportation.  Because of this, the Commission will not consider evidence pertaining to greenhouse gas emissions or climate change. 

LNG Exports: Department of Energy Approves Extension of Three LNG Export Authorizations Through 2050
On October 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy released a statement notifying the public that it extended the terms of three liquified natural gas projects export authorizations until December 31, 2050.  The Department of Energy’s actions extend term authorizations for Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass in Louisiana, Corpus Christi LNG in Texas, and Sempra Energy’s Port Arthur in Texas.  The extensions permit these companies to export liquified natural gas to both free trade and non-free trade countries through the end of the year 2050.  The authorizations were made pursuant to the Department of Energy’s final policy statement published in July 2020 at 85 FR 52237

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts: 
George A. Bibikos, At the Well Weekly, Art. 1, sec. 27 (Oct. 23, 2020). 
Charles Sartain, Status as a Common Carrier Denied by a Texas Court (Oct. 27, 2020). 
John McFarland, Mineral Title Dispute Before Texas Supreme Court (Oct. 28, 2020). 

AGENCY PRESS RELEASES—STATE/FEDERAL

U.S. Department of Energy Press Releases: 
DOE Extends Additional LNG Export Authorizations Through 2050 (Oct. 28, 2020).  
Department of Energy to Provide $24 Million in EPSCoR Grants for Energy-Related Research (Oct. 27, 2020).

STATE ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE/LEGISLATIVE

Pennsylvania Executive Agencies (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 50, No. 44—Oct. 31, 2020) 

FEDERAL ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE/LEGISLATIVE

Federal Executive Agencies (Federal Register Oct. 26–30, 2020): 

Energy Department
85 FR 68569 Notice of application: “Driftwood LNG LLC; Application To Amend Export Term for Existing Long-Term Authorization Through December 31, 2050” (Oct. 29, 2020). 
Environmental Protection Agency
85 FR 67665 Rule—Denial of petition for reconsideration: “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Petroleum Refinery Sector: Action Denying a Petition for Reconsideration” (Oct. 26, 2020). 
85 FR 68871 Notice—Comment Periods: “Environmental Impact Statements; Notice of Availability” (Oct. 30, 2020). 
85 FR 68873 Notice—Comment Periods: “Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Regulation of Fuels and Fuel Additives: Gasoline Volatility (Renewal)” (Oct. 30, 2020). 
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
85 FR 67724 Notice: “Notice of Application and Establishing Intervention Deadline; Golden Pass Pipeline LLC” (Oct. 26, 2020). 
85 FR 67733 Notice—Comment Period: “Notice of Scoping Period Requesting Comments on Environmental Issues for the Planned LA Storage, LLC Hackberry Storage Project” (Oct. 26, 2020). 
85 FR 68063 Notice—Comment Period: “Notice of Scoping Period Requesting Comments on Environmental Issues for the Proposed Columbia Gulf Transmission, LLC East Lateral Xpress Project” (Oct. 27, 2020). 
85 FR 68065 Notice: “Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC; Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review of the VR-22 to Shore Abandonment Project” (Oct. 27, 2020). 
85 FR 68324 Notice: “Spire Storage West LLC; Notice of Application and Establishing Intervention Deadline” (Oct. 28, 2020). 
85 FR 68323 Notice: “National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation and Empire Pipeline, Inc.; Notice of Request for Extension of Time” (Oct. 28, 2020). 
85 FR 68863 Notice: “Transwestern Pipeline Company, LLC; Notice of Application and Establishing Intervention Deadline” (Oct. 30, 2020). 
Land Management Bureau
85 FR 68087 Notice of Availability: “Notice of Availability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative (WPCI) Resource Management Plan Amendments to 9 BLM-Wyoming Resource Management Plans” (Oct. 27, 2020). 
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration 
85 FR 68953 Notice—Comment Period: “Pipeline Safety: Request for Special Permit; Columbia Gulf Transmission, L.L.C.” (Oct. 30, 2020). 

U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee

H.R. 3623 “Climate Risk Disclosure Act of 2019” Placed on the Union Calendar (Oct. 27, 2020).
H.R. 8671 “To establish the Committee on Large-Scale Carbon Management in the National Science and Technology Council and a Federal Carbon Removal Initiative, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce (Oct. 23, 2020). 

Follow us on Twitter @AgShaleLaw—Top #ShaleLaw HotLinks Oct. 26-30, 2020:
Court Urged to Reverse BLM Fracking Rule Rollback Over NEPA, E&E News Publishings
U.S. Oil Production Will Not Return Soon to Pre-Pandemic Levels, Energy Secretary Says, Reuters 
4 Election Battles Could Overhaul U.S. Oil and Gas, E&E News Publishings
Trump Mulling Executive Order For Government Fracking Analysis, Fox Business 
Global Emissions From Fuel Consumption Likely Peaked Last Year: Research, Reuters

Connect with us on Facebook.  Every week we post the CASL Ledger detailing our publications and activities from the week.