Monday, February 27, 2017

Shale Law Weekly Review - February 27, 2017

Written by Jacqueline Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator

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

Environmental Hearing Board Refuses to Reconsider Permits Issued to Mariner East II Pipeline
On February 23, 2017, the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board issued an opinion and order denying a motion for an expedited hearing and reconsideration of permits granted for the Mariner East 2 pipeline. The Mariner East 2 pipeline will transport natural gas liquids from Ohio and Pennsylvania to Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Permits were granted for the project on February 13, 2017. The current action was brought by the Clean Air Council, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and the Mountain Watershed Association to appeal all 20 permits that have been granted.

Dakota Access Pipeline Nears Completion After Receiving Last Easement
On February 21, 2017, Energy Transfer Partners said in status report that the Dakota Access pipeline construction is near completion, according to the Washington Times.  The Washington Times reports that the company is expects the pipeline to be complete between March 6th and April 1st. On February 8, 2017, Energy Transfer Partners L.P. (ETP) received the last easement necessary to complete construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on February 8th. According to a ETP press release, the Army Corps of Engineers has granted the easement permitting the pipeline to cross land adjacent to Lake Oahe. The Army Corps granted the easement after a presidential memorandum demanded that actions should be taken to review and approve the pipeline. The Dakota Access pipeline consists of a 30-inch diameter pipe that will transfer crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

Study Examines Unconventional Oil and Gas Well Spill Rates
On February 21, 2017, a study was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology that examines spills from unconventional oil and gas wells in four states: Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. Colorado and New Mexico require any spill exceeding 210 gallons to be reported while North Dakota requires the reporting of any spills more than 42 gallons. Pennsylvania requires reporting of more than 5 gallons of brine “containing more than 10,000 mg/L total dissolved solids (TDS), or of at least 15 gallons of brine with a lower TDS concentration.” According to the study, “About 15% of all wells reported a spill, with more than 75% occurring within the first three years of well life.” The study is entitled “Unconventional Oil and Gas Spills: Risks, Mitigation Priorities, and State Reporting Requirements.”

New Federal Coal, Oil, and Gas Valuation Rule Postponed Due to Legal Challenges
On February 22, 2017, the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) announced the postponement of the Consolidated Federal Oil & gas and Federal & Indian Coal Valuation Reform Rule (2017 Valuation Rule). The ONRR stated in the federal register that the rule was being postponed as a result of three petitions in federal court challenging the rule.  The purpose of the rule was to simplify and clarify product valuation for mineral interest holders and to decrease the industry’s cost of compliance.

Georgia Bill Passed by House Proposes to Regulate Oil and Gas Development
On February 23, 2017, Georgia legislators passed a bill in the House that will regulate oil and gas exploration and extraction in the state. The bill, HB205, creates an Oil and Gas Board, amends drilling permit provisions, increases the amount of drilling operation bond securities, provides a severance tax, and grants authority to local governments to zone.  The bill was passed by a vote of 162 to 1, and on February 24th it was referred to the Senate.

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