The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
EIA Projects the United States as Net Energy Exporter
On January 5, 2017, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released their Annual Outlook 2017. The report projects that the United States will be a net exporter in most scenarios. Energy consumption is generally expected to remain consistent, while projections for energy production vary widely to where there could be no change or a 50% increase in growth. The report also states that much of the total shale gas and dry natural gas production is due to the development of the Marcellus and Utica shale plays. In addition, the Short-Term Energy Outlook released January 10th by the EIA, projects natural gas consumption to increase by 0.3 Bcf/d in 2017.
PA Senators' Motion to Intervene in Lawsuit is Denied
On January 5, 2017, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania denied a motion to intervene by three Pennsylvania senators in a lawsuit against the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) (Wayne Lane & Mineral Grp., LLC v. Del. River Basin Comm’n, No. 3:16-CV-00897). The senators, Joseph B. Scarnati, Lisa Baker, and Gene Yaw, intervened on the side of Wayne Land and Mineral Group, LLC, arguing that the DRBC lacks jurisdiction and authority to deny drilling activities. The court held that the senators lacked sufficient interest in the litigation but the senators will be permitted to file a joint amicus curiae brief on behalf of the plaintiff.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Denies Seismic Survey Applications for Atlantic
On January 6, 2017, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the denial of pending permit applications to conduct seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean. The denial was based on the recent removal of this area of the Atlantic from the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The BOEM said in their statement that there is “no immediate need” to conduct these surveys because there can be no leasing for this area for at least the next five years. In addition, the BOEM stated that “the value of obtaining the geophysical and geological information...does not outweigh the potential risks of those surveys’ acoustic pulse impacts on marine life.”
New Bill Signed in Ohio Will Regulate Local Ballot Issues
On January 4, 2017, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 463 which includes new requirements for county charters. The bill will give the board of elections and the secretary of state the power to decide when a proposed county charter does not meet proper procedural requirements. In addition, the proposed charter must not reserve certain powers for local control that have already been reserved to the state. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the bill will make it more difficult for local groups to use ballot voting to change local rules for hydraulic fracturing.
Canadian Environmental Group Files Legal Challenge to Energy East Pipeline
On January 10, 2017, Transition Initiative Kenora (TIK) filed a motion with the Canadian National Energy Board to stay the Energy East pipeline review. TIK argues that the review process is void, or in the alternative, there should be a stay of the proceeding pending a determination by the Federal Court of Appeals. The motion comes as a result of three members of the Energy East Panel who recused themselves after they held private meetings with a company consultant. TIK’s motion states that “The former Panel’s conduct taints the entirety of the Energy East proceeding with a reasonable apprehension of bias.”
Oral Arguments for BLM Hydraulic Fracturing Rule PostponedOn January 3, 2017, the 10th United States Circuit Court of Appeals rescheduled oral arguments for the lawsuit over the Bureau of Land Management's new hydraulic fracturing rules (State of Wyoming, et al. v. Jewell, et al.). Initially set for January 17th, the arguments will now be held March 22nd. The rule regulates hydraulic fracturing on federal and American Indian lands.
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Written by Jacqueline Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator