The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas:
U.S. EPA releases three final rules concerning methane and VOC emissions from the oil and gas industry
On May 12, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued three final rules regarding methane and volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions from new, reconstructed and modified oil and gas sources, including from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells. In August 2015, U.S. EPA started working on updating federal air rules following President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by proposing new rules to reduce methane and VOC emissions from the oil and gas industry. The three final rules have been submitted to the Federal Register for publication.
Western Energy Alliance and the North Dakota Petroleum Council bring legal action against BLM over its land use plan protecting the greater sage grouse
On May 12, 2016, Western Energy Alliance and the North Dakota Petroleum Council filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of the Interior in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota challenging BLM’s land use plan for the conservation of the greater sage-grouse species. Plaintiffs alleged that the federal land use plan was decided in violation of multiple federal laws and “imposed . . . restrictions and prohibitions on new oil and gas leasing, and on development of valid existing leases.” In the complaint, plaintiffs declared that the state of North Dakota “has the highest percentage of existing oil and gas leased acreage within these newly designated priority habitats areas and corresponding leasing and development restrictions of any other state in the West.”
U.S. EIA releases the International Energy Outlook for the year 2016
On May 11, 2016, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its International Energy Outlook 2016 addressing energy consumption projections through 2040. Interestingly, the EIA found that “even though consumption of nonfossil fuels is expected to grow faster than consumption of fossil fuels, fossil fuels still account for 78% of energy use in 2040” and added that “natural gas is the fastest-growing fossil fuel in the outlook.”
U.S. Senate passes legislation to establish the National Advisory Council’s Railroad Emergency Subcommittee
On May 9, 2016, the U.S. Senate passed S. 546 to establish the Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs and Safety Evaluation (RESPONSE) Subcommittee of the National Advisory Council. As part of the bill, the RESPONSE Subcommittee would have to “develop recommendations . . . for improving emergency first responder training and resource allocation for hazardous materials incidents involving railroads.” S. 546 was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on May 10, 2016.
PA State Representative seeks co-sponsorship to reform the Environmental Quality Board (EQB)
On May 4, 2016, Pennsylvania State Representative Cris Dush circulated a memorandum seeking for co-sponsorship for his proposed legislation to reform and “strengthen the independence of the Environmental Quality Board (EQB).” Rep. Cris Dush proposed to restore EQB’s “balance by removing the secretary from the EQB and making the chair of the board an elected position from among the members” and creating permanent membership for the majority and minority chairs of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committees.
Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow