The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas:
Pennsylvania DEP releases silica sand monitoring results for the Wyoming County
On March 28, 2016, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) made available results concerning levels of crystalline silica sand in the area of Tunkhannock, Wyoming County. The results show that silica concentration levels in the air are not considered as immediate health threats. DEP undertook a Baseline Crystalline Silica PM4 Monitoring Project following rising concerns over the proposed D&I Silica Sand Transfer Station in the region.
IPAA sues PA DEP challenging amendments to 25 Pa. Code Chapters 78 and 78a
On March 24, 2016, Pennsylvania Independent Petroleum Producers Association (IPAA) brought an action against Pennsylvania DEP challenging amendments to Chapters 78 and 78a of the Pennsylvania Code. IPAA argued that “despite DEP and EQB’s claims to the contrary, the vast majority of these rules are the same for both conventional and unconventional operators despite important differences between the two industries that are already known to DEP.” IPAA is seeking a declaratory, injunctive and mandamus relief.
U.S. Petrochemical Manufacturer delivers first shipment of U.S. shale gas ethane to Norway
On March 23, 2016, INEOS, a global manufacturer of petrochemicals, delivered its first shipment of U.S. shale gas ethane to Norway. The INEOS Intrepid left Marcus Hook Terminal, Pennsylvania, on March 9, transporting 27,500 cubic meters of ethane. In November 2015, INEOS also signed an agreement with ExxonMobil Chemical Limited and Shell Chemicals Europe to provide a supply of U.S. shale gas ethane to the Fife Ethylene Plant in Scotland, UK, in mid 2017.
PA House Democratic Policy Committee hears debate over natural gas incentives
On March 21, 2016, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing as to whether regulators should continue to incentivize natural gas. At this hearing, State Representative Greg Vitali inquired if “these incentives make sense for climate change and the health of Pennsylvania residents.” Among those in attendance to testify were Rob Altenburg, Director at PennFuture Energy Center, Robert Howarth, the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology, and Tom Peterson, President and CEO, Center for Climate Strategies. More information about the hearing is available here.
LNG Project in Puerto Rico delayed due to endangered species concerns
Special concerns raised by NOAA Fisheries over Hawksbill sea turtles and Elkhorn coral, both listed as endangered and threatened species under the ESA, may delay the construction of the Aguirre Offshore Gasport Project in Puerto Rico. This project, operated by the Excelerate Energy Company, would allow for the reduction of electricity costs in Puerto Rico by using natural gas instead of fuel oil at the Aguirre Power Plant. In July 2015, FERC granted authorization to start construction of the LNG project in the first quarter of 2016. NOAA Fisheries recently ruled that the project did not meet certain federal requirements deemed to protect endangered and threatened species, such as the species listed above. More information on this case is available at FERC docket no. CP13-193-000.
Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow