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.
Public Lands: Penn Hills Changes Vote to Allow For Seismic Testing
On September 11, 2017, the Penn Hills Council (Council) voted to allow for seismic testing on municipal property. According to TribLive, Council voted against allowing Geokinetics USA to perform the seismic testing in July. Geokinetics USA, a seismic testing service, was to perform testing on over 30 different Penn Hills properties. The article states that Council only changed their vote after an energy law firm sent a letter explaining that refusal to allow for testing would result in a lawsuit that Council would likely lose.
Public Lands: Environmental Organizations File Lawsuit Against Bureau of Land Management
On September 11, 2017, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). According to a CBD press release, the lawsuit challenges BLM’s action in June that opened almost 200,000 acres of public land to fossil fuel development. CBD argues that leasing these public lands in Nevada “risks polluting the region’s air, water and soil with toxic chemicals while fueling the global climate crisis.”
Air Quality: House Passes Amendment to Bill Prohibiting Funds for Methane Emissions Rule
On September 13, 2017, the U.S. House voted in favor of an amendment to H.R. 3354 which will prohibit the use of funds to enforce the methane emissions rule. The amendment was passed by a vote of 218 to 195. The methane emissions rule, or Emissions Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources, was published in June 2016. The methane emissions rule set standards for greenhouse gases and volatile organic compound emissions.
Water Quality: Delaware River Basin Commission Resolves to Prepare New Regulations
On September 13, 2017, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) adopted a resolution to prepare a set of draft regulations to address natural gas development activities within the Delaware River Basin. The draft regulations will include prohibitions on the production of natural gas by use of hydraulic fracturing. In addition, the new regulations will include “provisions for ensuring the safe and protective storage, treatment, disposal and/or discharge of wastewater within the Basin associated with horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for the production of natural gas where permitted.” According to the DRBC press release, there will be opportunities for public input, including hearings and written comments. The governors of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York have voted in favor of the new resolution.
Pipelines: West Virginia Revokes Water Quality Certification for Mountain Valley Pipeline
On September 7, 2017, the Division of Water and Waste Management for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (Department) revoked the Water Quality Certification issued to Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC. Department explained in their letter that application is being revoked in order to “allow the agency to reevaluate the complete application to determine whether the State’s certification is in compliance with Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act.” The Mountain Valley Pipeline project will carry natural gas from northwest West Virginia to Virginia.
Pipelines: Minnesota Recommends Against Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline Project
On September 11, 2017, the Minnesota Commerce Department (Department) issued a press release announcing their recommendation against the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline project. Department stated that Enbridge has not yet “established a need for the proposed project.” In addition, Department stated that the environmental and socioeconomic risks would outweigh the potential benefits to Minnesota. The Line 3 project will replace an existing 1,097 mile long pipeline that extends from Alberta, Canada to Wisconsin.
Air Quality: Utah Releases Draft Rules On Oil and Gas Emissions
On September 6, 2017, the Utah Air and Quality Board released draft rules for public comment on oil and gas emissions. The rule, Amend R307-403, Permits: New and Modified Sources in Nonattainment Areas and Maintenance Areas, supplements but does not replace current permitting requirements. The purpose of the change is to “improve the permitting, compliance, and emission inventory processes for oil and gas sources.”
Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive ShaleLaw HotLinks
"Delaware River agency advances ban on shale-gas drilling" - The Inquirer
Connect with us on Facebook! Every week we will post the CASL Ledger which details all our publications and activities from the week.
See our Global Shale Law Compendium and this week’s article, Shale Governance in Brazil.
Check out this week’s Shale Law in the Spotlight: Overview of Legal Developments on the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Project.
Stay informed with our monthly Agricultural Law Brief located here.