The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas:
European Commission takes legal action against Poland over shale gas exploratory drilling concerns
Recently, the European Commission referred Poland to the European Court of Justice for breach of EU environmental standards relating to the regulation of shale gas drilling. The European Commission objects to the Polish law that requires impact assessments only for drilling to a depth of more than 5,000 meters. In a Press Release, the European Commission declared that “the high threshold introduced under Polish law does not take into account all relevant criteria and standards established by the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (Directive 2011/92/EU), which should be used when determining whether certain types of projects require an assessment.”
Pennsylvania DEP announces the launch of an ambient air quality monitoring network
On April 27, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the launch of “an unprecedented expansion of the state’s fine particulate matter (PM2.5) ambient air monitoring network to ensure human health is protected in rural Pennsylvania.” In a Press Release, DEP Secretary John Quigley explained that community concerns over impact from natural gas production on ambient air quality have greatly motivated this monitoring program. He also added that, besides PM2.5 monitors already installed in Greene and Bradford counties, “DEP intends to install PM2.5 monitors in Fayette, Indiana, Lycoming, Susquehanna, and Wyoming counties by the end of 2016.”
House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources holds a hearing on BLM proposed rule to reduce venting and flaring from natural gas production
On April 27, 2016, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing entitled “Bureau of Land Management’s Regulatory Overreach into Methane Emissions Regulations” to address the merits of the BLM proposed rule to reduce waste of natural gas from venting, flaring, and leaks during oil and natural gas production on Federal and Indian lands. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on February 8, 2016. The video transcription of the subcommittee’s hearing is available here.
USGS records a M1.9 earthquake in Pennsylvania near drilling site
On April 25, 2016, the U.S. Geological Survey recorded an earthquake of magnitude 1.9 in Mahoning Township, Lawrence County. The earthquake occurred near a natural gas well site operated by Hilcorp with ongoing hydraulic fracturing operations. Later in the day, Pennsylvania DEP announced that Hilcorp had halted its drilling operations for the conduct of the investigation, according to a media report.
U.S. Senate reviews bill addressing Atlantic seismic tests for offshore oil and gas resources
On April 21, 2016, U.S. Senator Cory A. Baker introduced S. 2841 which would prohibit “oil-, gas-, and methane hydrate-related seismic activities in North Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, and straits of Florida planning areas of Outer Continental Shelf.” S. 2841 responds to community concerns over the impacts of intense sound impulses used to prospect for underwater hydrocarbon resources on marine wildlife. The bill would amend Section 11 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow