Monday, December 11, 2017

Shale Law Weekly Review - December 11, 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: West Virginia DEP Announces Public Hearings  for Atlantic Coast Pipeline
On December 6, 2017, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) announced in a news release that they will hold two public hearings for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s requested construction stormwater permit. The permit will give WVDEP inspection and enforcement authority over the pipeline project. In addition, WVDEP announced that they have waived 401 Water Quality certification. The news release states that the environmental requirements in a 401 certification are highly similar to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide permit.

Pipelines: Landowners File Answer and Motion to Dismiss in Mountain Valley Pipeline Lawsuit
On December 4, 2017, landowners involved in a eminent domain lawsuit against the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) filed an answer to MVP’s complaint as well as a motion to dismiss the case (Mountain Valley Pipeline v. An Easement to Construct Operate and Maintain a 42-Inch Gas Transmission Line, 2:17-cv-04214).  The landowners state that MVP lacks subject matter jurisdiction and has failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted. MVP filed this eminent domain lawsuit to gain easements for the construction of the pipeline after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued certificates of approval in October. According to the landowners, these certificates are only conditional, and therefore MVP must acquire additional certificates before they can use eminent domain to acquire the necessary easements.

Pipelines: Court Orders Interim Conditions for Dakota Access Pipeline
On December 4, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a Memorandum Opinion ordering several interim conditions for the Dakota Access Pipeline (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps for Eng’rs, No. 16-1534). The court stated the purpose of the conditions is provide the court with necessary and up-to-date information regarding the operation of the pipeline. Specifically, the court orders that the Army Corps of Engineers, Dakota Access LLC, and Standing Rock must coordinate to finalize spill response plans at Lake Oahe. The court also orders that Dakota Access select an independent third-party auditor, in consultation with Standing Rock, to ensure the pipeline operator’s regulatory compliance. Lastly, the court is requiring Dakota Access to file bi-monthly status reports on any pipeline repairs or incidents.

Water Quality: Draft Rule Prohibits Hydraulic Fracturing in Delaware River Basin
On November 30, 2017, the Delaware River Basin Commission
released a draft of their proposed new rule (18 CFR Part 440) which will ban hydraulic fracturing within the Delaware River Basin (DRB). The rule states that high volume hydraulic fracturing creates significant and immediate risks to the conservation and management of the water resources within the DRB. The rule also contains policy provisions that discourage the use of water from the DRB for hydraulic fracturing purposes. Additionally, the rule discourages the importation of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing.

Methane Emissions: BLM Releases Final Rule Suspending Methane Emission Requirements for Natural Gas Production
On December 8, 2017, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a final rule that will suspend certain requirements within the Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation rule. The purpose of the original regulation was to reduce natural gas waste from venting, flaring, and leaks from oil and natural gas production. Several sections of the regulation are being suspended by the BLM out of concern for cost, feasibility, and statutory authority. The new final rule will become effective January 8, 2018.

Production and Operation: EIA Report Shows Increase in Natural Gas Production in Appalachia
On December 4, 2017, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report showing a rapid increase in natural gas production within the Appalachian region from 2012. The EIA report states that since 2012, the Marcellus and Utica shale plays have increased natural gas production by more than 14 Bcf/d. EIA attributes part of the production increase to efficiency improvements including faster drilling, longer laterals, better well targeting, and technological advances.   

Methane Emissions: Oil and Gas Producers Launch Environmental Partnership
On December 5, 2017, 26 natural gas and oil producers in the U.S. launched the Environmental Partnership, according to Energy API. The purpose of the partnership is to encourage environmental improvements in oil and gas operations across the country. The partnership will focus on reducing methane and volatile organic compound emissions by closely monitoring emissions, minimizing emissions from manual liquid removal at wells, and replacing high-bleed pneumatic controllers. Some of the participants in the partnership include Chesapeake Energy, BP, Chevron, Shell, Encana, and Anadarko.

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See our Global Shale Law Compendium and this week’s article, Natural Gas Severance Taxes in the United States (PA, OH, WV).

Check out this week’s Shale Law in the Spotlight: UPDATE - Dakota Access Pipeline and its Current Legal Developments

Stay informed with our monthly Agricultural Law Brief located here.

1 comment:

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