Monday, March 20, 2017

Shale Law Weekly Review - March 20, 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.

Maryland House Approves Bill to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing in the State
On March 10, 2017, the Maryland House passed a bill that requires the Department of the Environment to adopt regulations banning hydraulic fracturing in the state. The bill, House Bill 1325, is called Oil and Natural Gas - Hydraulic Fracturing - Prohibition. The bill passed with a vote of 97-40 and was subsequently read to the Senate on March 13, 2017.

Court Denies Standing Rock Injunction and Emergency Order
On March 14, 2017, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia denied the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Motion for Injunction Pending Appeal. (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, et al., v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al.) Standing Rock filed this appeal as a response to last week’s denial of their motion for a Preliminary Injunction which was brought for the purpose of stopping the flow of oil within the pipeline. In addition, on March 18, 2017, the U.S. Appeals Court denied a request for an emergency order to prevent operation of the pipeline, according to NBC News.

BLM Completes Environmental Assessment for Drilling Project in ND
On March 10, 2017, the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) completed their environmental assessment of proposed drilling within the Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. The BLM will grant a permit to Slawson Exploration Company to drill 8 of 11 wells from a pad near Lake Sakakawea. According to a BLM press release, “the well pad will be located approximately 800 feet from the lake, with the production facilities located three quarters of a mile away.” The proposal for the project was completed in May 2016.

Department of Justice Files Motion to Halt Litigation on BLM Hydraulic Fracturing Rule
On March 15, 2017, the Department of Justice filed a motion with the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit requesting to hold their appeal in abeyance. The litigation involves the rule, Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands, issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 2015. The new administration has announced its intent to rescind the rule at issue and therefore wishes to halt litigation until the matter is resolved.

Purdue Study Shows Methane Emissions Higher than EPA Estimates
On March 13, 2017, researchers from Purdue University published a study on methane emissions in the  journal Environmental Science & Technology. The study is called “Assessing the Methane Emissions from Natural Gas-Fired Power Plants and Oil Refineries.” The study compared emission data collected from several natural gas power plants and oil refineries with emission data gathered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The study found that CH4 and CO2 emissions were greater than reported by EPA estimates.

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