The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas:
BLM intends to develop shale formations on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation, Colorado
Recently, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe was informed that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering preparing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for proposed shale development on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation in La Plata, Montezuma and Archuleta counties, Colorado. According to BLM’s proposal, shale development on the Indian Reservation would create 1,534 drilling wells on 352 well pads. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe, however, noted that the exact location of the proposed wells is not known yet. The scoping period is open for public comment until April 14, 2016.
Colorado House Committee rejects bill allowing local control over oil and gas development
On April 4, 2016, the Colorado House State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee rejected House Bill No. 16-1355 that would have authorized local governments to control oil and gas development within their jurisdiction. As a justification for the proposed legislation, the drafters explained that “statewide siting rules provide an ineffective protection for the public, and therefore the current legal structure is not working because the state rules governing the siting of industrial oil and gas facilities do not work for all communities.”
BP will develop shale gas in the Sichuan Basin formation, China
On March 31, 2016, the British Petroleum (BP) Company signed a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) for shale gas extraction and production in the Neijiang-Dazu block in the Sichuan Basin, China. The project will cover approximately 1,500 square kilometers. In a Press Release, BP declared that “the framework agreement covers possible future fuel retailing ventures in China, exploration of oil and LNG trading opportunities globally, and carbon emissions trading as well as sharing of knowledge around low carbon energy and management practices.”
Fayette County Commission revises ban on drilling-waste injection wells in West Virginia
At the end of March, the Fayette County Commission passed a revised version of the ordinance banning the storage, disposal, or use of oil and natural gas waste in Fayette County, aimed at clarifying its legal interpretation. The commissioners clarified that only permanent storage drilling waste in the county would be banned instead of temporary storage as contained in the original ordinance. The Commission enacted the original ordinance in January 2016 and, in the meantime, EQT Production Co. filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia challenging the ordinance’s validity. More information on this case is available at docket no. 2:16-cv-00290.
Canadian Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing releases a three-volume report addressing impacts of shale gas development in the New Brunswick province
In February 2016, the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing released a three-volume report, respectively entitled: “The Findings”, “Potential Economic Health and Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Development”, and “Compendium of Mitigation Options for Potential Human and Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Development.” The Canadian commission developed this report to address the concerns expressed by the local population and Indigenous people regarding shale gas development in the New Brunswick province. The three-volume report can be found here.
Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow
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