Monday, May 1, 2017

Shale Law Weekly Review - May 1, 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.

Delaware Riverkeeper Network Files Appeal to Circuit Court Ruling
On April 20, 2017, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network filed an appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in their case against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), according to Law 360. In this lawsuit, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network argues FERC is unconstitutionally biased when making decisions relating to the issuance of pipeline certificates (Del. Riverkeeper Network v. FERC). The lawsuit was dismissed in March when the court found there was no inherent structural bias.

Administration Issues Executive Order on Offshore Energy
On April 28, 2017, an executive order was released by the United States Office of the Press Secretary entitled “Implementing an America - First Offshore Energy Strategy.” The executive order implements a policy for the United States “to encourage energy exploration and production, including on the Outer Continental Shelf, in order to maintain the Nation’s position as a global energy leader…”

Penn State Study Examines Shale Development Impact on Forest Fragmentation
On April 19, 2017, Penn State News issued a press release detailing a new study completed by Pennsylvania State University researchers on forest impacts from shale development. The study entitled “Linear Infrastructure Drives Habitat Conversion and Forest Fragmentation Associated with Marcellus Shale Gas Development in a Forested Landscape,” examines yearly shale gas development in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016. The study found that pipelines had the greatest effect on forest fragmentation, and loss of core forest occurred more on private land rather than on public land. The research suggests forest fragmentation could be reduced by placing new well pads near pre-existing pipeline infrastructure.

Oregon House Passes Moratorium on Hydraulic Fracturing in the State
On April 27, 2017, the Oregon House passed a bill that would ban hydraulic fracturing in the state for ten years. The bill, House Bill 2711, declares that “for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is declared to exist…”  Oregon currently has no hydraulic fracturing operations but has the potential for coalbed methane development in the Willamette Valley, according to the Statesman Journal.

Los Angeles to Study Oil and Gas Drilling Near Residential Areas
On April 19, 2017, several Los Angeles city council legislators introduced a motion requesting a study on oil and gas development near public places. The motion would require the Department of City Planning, the City Attorney, and the Petroleum Administrator to prepare an analysis of “changes to the City’s land use codes relative to oil and gas development…” The study would specifically examine the effect of requirements that no oil and gas well be located near residential properties, child care facilities, schools, or medical facilities.

Canada to Delay Implementation of Methane Regulations
On April 20, 2017, CBC News announced that Canada intends to delay full implementation of their new methane regulations from 2020 to 2023. The new regulations were to “reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025.”  The Canadian government originally made this commitment in 2016 when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with former United States President Barack Obama.

Dutch Court Opens Criminal Investigation for Earthquakes Caused by Shell and ExxonMobil Joint Venture
On April 20, 2017, a Dutch appeals court directed prosecutors to open a criminal investigation against NAM for earthquakes allegedly linked to oil and gas production in the Groningen gas field, according to Reuters. NAM is a joint venture owned by Shell and ExxonMobil and has already accepted civil responsibility for damage caused by recent earthquakes. NAM’s website states that “[g]as production from the Groningen gas field causes earthquakes which affects the daily lives of communities living in the area.” According to the ruling, the investigations are a  result of “evidence that the NAM is culpable of...damaging buildings with threat to human life.”

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