Monday, April 17, 2017

Shale Law Weekly Review - April 17, 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.

FERC Issues Environmental Impact Statement for PennEast Pipeline
On April 7, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the PennEast Pipeline Project, according to a FERC press release. FERC concluded 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 the implementation of PennEast’s proposed and FERC staff’s recommended mitigation measures.” The EIS covers over 120 miles of pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and includes a compressor station, metering stations, valves sites, and pig launcher/receiver sites.

Wayne Land and Mineral Group to Appeal Case Against Delaware River Basin Commission
On April 7, 2017, the Wayne Land and Mineral Group, LLC filed a Notice of Appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Wayne Land and Mineral Group, LLC v. Delaware River Basin Commission, 3:16-CV-00897). Wayne Land brought the case against the Delaware River Basin Commission (Commission) in May 2016, arguing that the Commission “lacks authority under the Delaware River Basin Compact to review and approve a natural gas well pad…” The district court disagreed with Wayne Land’s arguments and granted the Commission’s Motion to Dismiss.

IHS Markit Releases Study Evaluating PA Natural Gas Resources and Opportunities
IHS Markit recently released a study entitled “Prospects to Enhance Pennsylvania’s Opportunities in Petrochemical Manufacturing.” The report was commissioned by Team Pennsylvania Foundation “to identify and evaluate the opportunities for petrochemical and plastics manufacturing in Pennsylvania based on natural gas resources available in the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays.” The report concludes that Pennsylvania has significant potential for economic development in this area in part due to the high amount of ethane and propane produced in the state.

NY DEC Denies Permit for Northern Access Project  
On April 7, 2017, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied permits for the Northern Access natural gas pipeline project. The proposed pipeline would transport natural gas from Pennsylvania through New York and deliver the gas to several states, as well as Canada. The DEC stated that the project did not comply with New York water quality standards because it “fails to avoid or adequately mitigate adverse impacts to water quality and associated resources.”

Sierra Club and Environment New Jersey Appeal Commission’s Pipeline Approval
On April 10, 2017, the Sierra Club and Environment New Jersey filed an appeal against the State of New Jersey Pinelands Commission for the approval of the South Jersey Gas pipeline. In February, the Pinelands Commission approved the 22-mile gas pipeline which will pass through the Pinelands area. The Sierra Club argues that the pipeline “will destroy environmentally sensitive land,” and cause water pollution problems. In addition, their appeal argues that “this type of infrastructure is only allowed through the Pinelands Forest Preservation Area, if it primarily serves the Pinelands, but it does not.”

North Dakota Governor Signs Bill Amending Oil and Gas Spill Reporting Requirements
On April 7, 2017, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum signed a bill which exempts oil and gas operators from reporting leaks or spills of less than ten barrels. Specifically, House Bill 1151 allows the reporting exemption if the leak or spill remains on the site or within the facility and if the spill is “less than ten barrels cumulative over a fifteen-day time period...” The bill was introduced January 3, 2017 and then advanced through the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
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