Monday, January 9, 2017

Shale Law Weekly Review - January 9, 2017

The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.

DEP Will Revise Standards of Review for Erosion and Sediment Permits
On January 4, 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a press release stating that they are in the process of changing “eligibility standards for expedited review of Erosion and Sediment permit applications related to oil and gas drilling.” The revised process is the result of a two year internal review conducted by the DEP. The review found that in the two year period, 1,054 permits were submitted for expedited review and 618 of those permits were rejected because they were incomplete or technically deficient.

FERC Issues Final Environmental Impact Statement for Pennsylvania Pipeline Project
On December 30, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Atlantic Sunrise project. The report states that “FERC staff determined that construction and operation of the Project would result in some adverse environmental impacts, but impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels with implementation of Transco’s proposed and FERC staff’s recommended mitigation measures.” The EIS affects almost two hundred miles of pipeline and will deliver 1.7 million dekatherms of gas per day to existing markets. According to Williams Partners, they expect to begin construction on project facilities sometime in 2017.

BLM May Withdraw Land from Drilling to Protect Greater Sage-Grouse
On December 30, 2016, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing its intent “to withdraw approximately 10 million acres of public and National Forest System lands from location and entry under the United States mining laws to protect the Greater Sage-Grouse and its habitat.” According to a BLM press release, the Greater Sage-Grouse population has gone from millions to somewhere between 200,000 and 500,000. The press release states that the land affected by the proposal is a primary habitat for the Greater Sage-Grouse as well as 350 other animal and plant species.

EPA Agrees to Review Oil and Gas Waste Disposal Rules
On December 28, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Environmental Integrity Project, as well as other environmental groups, signed a consent decree in settlement of a case brought against the EPA in May 2016. The consent decree requires the EPA to review and potentially revise the current rules for oil and gas waste disposal. According to a Environmental Integrity Project news release, the lawsuit was brought to address oil and gas waste disposal practices, such as injection wells, which have been linked to earthquakes.

Maryland Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations Put on Hold
On December 29, 2016, the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review implemented a temporary hold on Maryland’s proposed hydraulic fracturing regulations, according to the Washington Post. As reported, the delay will postpone implementation of the regulations until February 27th, which will provide the General Assembly with additional time to examine concerns and determine if hydraulic fracturing should be permanently banned.

Ohio Court Allows Injection Well Operations to Continue
On December 23, 2016, a judge in Franklin County held that American Water Management Services should have been allowed to resume well operations, according to ABC News. The Ohio injection well was originally shut down in 2014 after two earthquakes occurred nearby. As stated by ABC News, the court order says the injection company submitted a plan for pumping at lower pressures and volumes. The article also states that before the well was closed, twenty other earthquakes were recorded.

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Written by Jacqueline Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator

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