Monday, November 13, 2017

Shale Law Weekly Review - November 13, 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.

Pipelines: Ohio Files Lawsuit Against Rover Pipeline for Illegal Discharge of Drilling Fluid
On November 3, 2017, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed suit on behalf of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency against Rover Pipeline LLC for allegedly polluting waters of the state during construction of the Rover Pipeline. The complaint alleges that Rover illegally discharged millions of gallons of drilling fluids on multiple occasions across various counties, including in the protected wetlands of Stark County. The complaint adds that Rover had no permits for these discharges. The Rover Pipeline is a 713-mile natural gas pipeline designed to stretch from the Marcellus and Utica shale areas to Ohio, Michigan, and areas across the U.S.

Local Regulation: Bowling Green Rejects Ballot Initiative that Would Ban More Pipelines
On November 7, 2017, the citizens of Bowling Green, Ohio, voted against a ballot initiative that would have banned new infrastructure for fossil fuel transportation. The ballot initiative noted that the continued extraction of fossil fuels is causing increased greenhouse gas concentrations leading to climate destabilization and human suffering. The purpose of the initiative was to protect “community rights to a healthy environment and livable climate.” The ballot initiative, Community Rights to a Healthy Environment and Livable Climate, lost by a vote of 3,408 against, and 2,145 in favor.

State Regulation: Drilling Company Requests Revocation of their own Hydraulic Fracturing Permit in Illinois
On November 1, 2017, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, upon request, cancelled Woolsey Operating Company’s high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing permit. The permit was vacated after Woolsey requested on October 30 that their application be withdrawn. According to the Chicago Tribune, Woolsey stated that they declined to use the permit due to market conditions and the “burdensome and costly” state regulations.

Pipelines: Federal Court Refuses to Halt Construction of Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline
On November 8, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a court order denying a request by several environmental groups to halt construction of the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, according to Law 360 (Allegheny Defense Project et al. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 17-1098). The news comes immediately after a temporary stay had been issued just two days prior. The purpose of the temporary stay was to give the court opportunity to consider the emergency motion to halt construction of the pipeline.

National Policy: EPA Requests Comment on Three Month Stay for Emission Standards Rule
On November 8, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published two notices of data availability relating to the EPA’s proposed stay of the rule, Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources.  The purpose of the notice, Stay of Certain Requirements, is to provide additional information on requirements in the rule for stakeholder clarification and requests comment on this information. The rule requirements in question include “implementing the fugitive emissions requirements, well site pneumatic pump standards, and the requirements for certification of closed vent systems by a professional engineer.” The other notice, “Three Month Stay of Certain Requirements,” provides data in support of a three month stay of the above requirements.

Pipelines: FERC Grants Permission to NEXUS Pipeline for Horizontal Drilling Locations
On November 6, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted permission to NEXUS Gas Transmission LLC to proceed with construction at five additional horizontal drilling locations. FERC stated that the Implementation Plan and all supplemental filings comply with Environmental Conditions and the Commission’s Order Issuing Certificates and Granting Abandonment. Furthermore, FERC wrote that NEXUS must comply with all applicable terms and conditions during construction.

Climate Change: Federal Report Analyzes Fossil Fuel Use to Determine Human Impact on Climate Change
On November 3, 2017, the U.S. Global Change Research Program released the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) which is a report mandated by the Global Change Research Act of 1990.  The purpose of the NCA4 report is to provide a scientific assessment on climate change, focusing on the United States, in order to assess risks for informed decision-making responses. The report analyzes the increase of greenhouse gases, including the increase in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.  Additionally, the report found an increased frequency of climate-related extreme weather events that has cost the U.S. over $1.1 trillion since 1980. The report concludes “that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

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