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: Nebraska Approves Keystone XL Pipeline Alternative Route
On November 20, 2017, the Nebraska Public Service Commission issued an order approving the Alternative Mainline Route for the Keystone XL Pipeline. The Commission refused to approve the Preferred Route stating that the Alternative Route would be in the public interest. The Alternative Route follows the previous Keystone 1 mainline route for a longer distance than the Preferred Route, which will make the monitoring of both lines more efficient and decrease emergency response times. Additionally, the Alternative Route decreases the amount of endangered species habitat affected by the pipeline. The Alternative Route also crosses fewer streams, rivers, shallow groundwater areas, and affects fewer wells.
Royalties: Pennsylvania Landowners and XTO Energy Reach Settlement Agreement Over Royalty Lawsuit
On November 16, 2017, Pennsylvanian landowners reached a settlement agreement with XTO Energy in a lawsuit regarding underpaid royalties (Marburger et al. v. XTO Energy Inc.). The plaintiffs filed an unopposed motion for approval of the settlement and the judge issued a preliminary approval order on the same day. The case involves a claim by landowners that XTO Energy had breached their leasing contracts by deducting operating expenses from natural gas royalty payments owed to landowners. The total settlement is for $11 million and will be shared among the thousands of landowners in the class action suit.
Pipelines: Mountain Valley Pipeline Files Suit Against Fayette County, WV for Denial of Rezoning Request
On November 17, 2017, Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC (MVP) filed suit against the Fayette County Commission in West Virginia for denying the rezoning application necessary for the construction of a compressor station, according to the Register-Herald. The article states that MVP’s compressor station was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and that MVP argues Fayette County’s zoning is preempted by federal law. Additionally, MVP is in the midst of a second lawsuit, an eminent domain proceeding against landowners in the pipeline path, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. On November 17th, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia refused to grant MVP’s request that all landowners respond by December 4th to MVP’s motion for summary judgment. The article also indicates that 24 of the 115 landowners have not yet received personal notice of the lawsuit.
LNG Exports: Poland and United States Based Centrica LNG Co. Sign Deal
On November 21, 2017, Poland finalized a contract to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States over the next five years, according to The Hill. The agreement involves Polish Oil and Gas Company Group, Poland’s state-owned oil and gas company. The gas will be shipped by Centrica LNG Co. and transported through Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass in Louisiana. The article also mentions that Poland now has a receiving terminal on the Baltic Sea and received its first LNG shipment in June.
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"US Oil Drilling Rig Count Holds Steady This Week" - Hart Energy
"Transco Pipeline Seeks FERC Approval for Gateway Project" - Midstream Biz
"Natural gas tax comes up for debate in Pennsylvania House" - LancasterOnline
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See our Global Shale Law Compendium and this week’s article, Shale Governance in Pennsylvania (2013 to 2016).
Check out this week’s Shale Law in the Spotlight: UPDATE - Dakota Access Pipeline and its Current Legal Developments
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