Written by Torin Miller and Richard Neal - Research Assistants
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
Pipelines: Eminent Domain Easement Rights Granted For New York Pipeline
According to a media report, on June 1, 2017, a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that National Fuel Gas “met all provisions to the state's eminent domain law.” National Fuel’s proposed Northern Access Pipeline would begin in northern Pennsylvania and cut through western New York to New York’s Niagara County. The ruling gives National Fuel access to only a few properties, and other eminent domain suits for the same project will proceed in the coming weeks.
Downstream Natural Gas Usage: PA DEP Will Consider Natural Gas-Fired Power Plant
On June 8, 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a press release announcing that DEP will hold a public hearing on a proposed natural gas-fired power plant in Robinson Township, Washington County. Robinson Power submitted an Air Quality Plan Approval application in March 2016 for a 1,000 MW natural gas-fired power plant. The release states: “The hearing will be held on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at the Fort Cherry Jr./Sr. High School Auditorium at 110 Fort Cherry Road, McDonald, PA 15057. The hearing will be preceded by brief presentations by DEP and the applicant and an open question and answer session beginning at 6:00 PM. The public hearing will start at 7:00 PM.”
On June 5, 2017, environmental groups including the Clean Air Council, Earthworks and the Sierra Club filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit against a decision made by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to delay methane emission reduction standards put in place during the Obama Administration. The groups are seeking a stay of EPA’s decision in an effort to keep the regulations in effect. Under the Obama-era rule, new and modified oil and gas wells had to meet a June 3 deadline for monitoring and maintenance of leaks. EPA’s decision has pushed this deadline back 90 days.
Methane Emissions: BLM Approves Flaring Mitigation Steps
On June 6, 2017, the Bureau of Land Management signed an environmental assessment and imposed new flaring requirements for oil wells in western North Dakota. The environmental assessment is calling for the capture of gas in the Bakken Shale oil producing wells, consultation with local Indian tribes, and a blending of energy infrastructure into the surrounding landscape. These requirements will apply to new permits, and permits will be assessed upon the well location's “visual, atmospheric or audible impacts on cultural or historical resources.”
Pipelines: Ohio Pipeline Environmental Impact Report Released
On May 31, 2017, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) released a report outlining the environmental impacts of a pipeline proposal by Duke Energy. The pipeline, which would span 13 miles, is intended to increase the reliability of natural gas delivery to Cincinnati. The report outlines both environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the proposed pipeline, and OPSB will hold a series of public hearings on the report and project in the coming weeks.
Pipelines: Environmental Groups File Petition For Review Regarding WV Pipeline
On June 9, 2017, environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, West Virginia Rivers Coalition and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, filed a petition with the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for the review of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) approval of a Clean Water Act certification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The petition seeks review of the denial of a public hearing on the certification approval by DEP. The pipeline will span from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia and cover over 300 miles.
State Regulation: Illinois gets First Applications for Horizontal Well
On May 22, 2017, Woosley Operating Co. applied for a permit under the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The Department of Natural Resources has assigned the application the review number of HVHHF-000001. The application is for a permit to begin to production of gas in White County, Illinois. This application marks the first high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHHF) application the state of Illinois has ever received. The public comment period for HVHHF-000001 began on May 29, 2017, and will be open until June 27, 2017.
Natural Gas Storage: Oregon Voters Reject Natural Gas Terminal Ban On May 30, 2017, voters of Coos County, Oregon, voted to reject a ballot proposal that would ban “a natural gas terminal intended to liquefy natural gas to make it transportable aboard tanker ships for sale abroad,” according to a media report. Seventy-six percent of voters rejected the proposed ban for the project, which would cost $7.6 billion and include a 231 mile pipeline. Environmental groups opposed the project (and supported the proposed ban), citing concerns that the project would “contribute to global warming.”
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“Investors Bet Trump Climate Withdrawal to Boost US Drilling” - New York Times
“Fossil fuels trade moves in U.S.'s favor” - Energywire
“Texas envisions LNG leadership on global stage” - API SmartBrief
“A record? Ohio well’s horizontal leg stretches 19,300 feet” - Farm and Dairy
“Committee forwards FERC nominations to full Senate for final approval” - Oil and Gas Journal
“Industry Analysts Look at Pennsylvania and Growing Ethane Capacity Could Mean 4 More Ethane Crackers for the Northeast U.S.” - Oil and Gas Journal
“Lawmakers, state officials clash over regulatory oversight” - The Daily Stream
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Check out this week’s Shale Law in the Spotlight: Overview of Federal Regulatory Actions Related to Methane Emissions and Other Air Quality Impacts from the Oil and Gas Sector