Monday, October 16, 2017

Shale Law Weekly Review - October 16, 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.

National Energy Policy: EPA Proposes to Repeal Clean Power Plan
On October 10, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to repeal the Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, better known as the Clean Power Plan. The EPA proposes that the regulations exceeded the agency’s statutory authority and that repeal of the regulations will “facilitate the development of U.S. energy resources.” The purpose of the Clean Power Plan was to establish guidelines for states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil-fuel electric generating units.

Pipelines: FERC Grants NEXUS Pipeline Permission to Begin Construction
On October 11, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC’s request to proceed with the construction of the NEXUS pipeline project. The grant omits several locations and activities from the approval. To obtain approval for the omitted activities, NEXUS must file information required by various Environmental Conditions issued by FERC. The NEXUS pipeline is a 255-mile interstate pipeline that will deliver 1.5 Bcf/d of natural gas from eastern Ohio to Michigan.

Local Regulation: Ohio Supreme Court Declines to Compel Certification of Ballot Proposal that Would Prohibit Drilling
On October 6, 2017, the Supreme Court of Ohio declined to compel the Mahoning County Board of Elections (Board) to certify petitions for inclusion on the election ballot (The State ex rel. Flak et al. v. Betras et al., Slip Opinion, No. 2017-Ohio-8109). One of the proposed amendments to the ballot, The Water Amendment, would declare that the people within the city of Youngstown have the right to clean air and water. This amendment would prohibit actions violating that right, including oil and gas drilling and extraction. The Board had determined that the proposed amendments contained provisions exceeding the scope of the city’s authority. The court held that the Board may refuse to certify proposed ballot amendments if the matter is beyond their authority to enact.

Pipelines: Court Refuses to Vacate Dakota Access Pipeline Easement While New EIS is Prepared
On October 11, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia refused to vacate the easement granted to the Dakota Access pipeline (Standing Rock v. Army Corps, No. 16-1534). This decision follows a court ruling from June where the judge ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers’ Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was inadequate. The court here held that the inadequacies in the EIS were not “fundamental or incurable flaws,” and therefore, halting the use of the pipeline would be an inappropriate remedy.

Pipelines: National Academies of Science Report Examines Natural Gas Pipeline Transportation
On October 11, 2017, the National Academies of Science introduced a new report, Safely Transporting Hazardous Liquids and Gases in a Changing U.S. Energy Landscape which analyzes the transportation of hazardous materials like oil, ethanol, and natural gas by pipeline, barge, and railroad. The report found that pipeline unintentional releases, or spills, have not increased and most year-to-year fluctuations are the result of major incidents. The research indicates that the increase of pipeline mileage and traffic will result in more pipeline spills in the future. In addition, release mechanisms like corrosion and cracking or excavation damage will add to the amount of spills over time. Advanced pipeline construction methods could limit spills, but pipeline maintenance, integrity management and leak monitoring are vital to suppressing future spills.

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See our Global Shale Law Compendium and this week’s article, Shale Governance in Australia. (Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland)

Check out this week’s Shale Law in the Spotlight: Status and Overview of BLM Hydraulic Fracturing Rule

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