Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Shale Law Weekly Review - January 2, 2018

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.

Federal Lands: BLM Rescinds 2015 Hydraulic Fracturing Rule
On December 29, 2017, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rescinded their 2015 hydraulic fracturing rule with a new rule entitled Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands; Rescission of a 2015 Rule. The 2015 rule included requirements for oil and gas operators to obtain approval before conducting hydraulic fracturing operations as well as various safety and environmental requirements. BLM states that the rule is being rescinded because they believe “it imposes administrative burdens and compliance costs that are not justified.”

Public Health: Energy In Depth Releases Report on Health Impacts from Drilling
On December 12, 2017, Energy In Depth released their commissioned report on mortality rates in Pennsylvania in relation to Marcellus Shale development. The report found that there was no identifiable impact on death rates attributable to unconventional oil and gas development. The report examined the six counties in Pennsylvania with the greatest number of Marcellus wells. The report is entitled Health and Well-ness: Analysis of Key Public Health Indicators in Six of the Most Heavily Drilled Marcellus Shale Counties in Pennsylvania.

Pipelines: FERC Approves Additional Facility Construction Activity for Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline
On December 14, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company’s request to construct additional facilities within Pennsylvania for the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. The additional facilities include the Chapman Loop, the Unity Loop, and the use of three contractor yards. The Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project is a 183 mile pipeline and includes facilities within five states including Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Pipelines: Nebraska Commission Denies Motions for Reconsideration of Keystone XL Final Order
On December 19, 2017, the Nebraska Public Service Commission (Commission) denied all motions for reconsideration of their Final Order regarding TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. The Final Order issued last month approved the Alternative Mainline Route and denied the Preferred Route for the pipeline. The Commission stated that the Alternative Route would be in the public interest because it would have a lesser impact on the environment and it follows the Keystone 1 mainline route for a longer distance than the Preferred Route. Various parties including TransCanada, the Sierra Club, and landowners filed motions for reconsideration, and oral arguments were held December 12, 2017.

Pipelines: Virginia Issues Water Quality Certification for Atlantic Coast Pipeline
On December 12, 2017, the Virginia State Water Control Board issued a 401 Water Quality Certification for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. The certification establishes additional conditions for construction and operation activities located in upland areas near state waters. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is approximately 605 miles in length. and will transport up to 1.5 MMDth/d of natural gas from the Appalachian region in West Virginia to Virginia and North Carolina.

Electricity Generation: Ohio Power Board Approves Application for Electric Generation Facility
On December 7, 2017, the Ohio Power Siting Board (Board) approved an application filed by Clean Energy Future-Oregon, LLC (Clean Energy) for the construction of an electric generation facility in Oregon, Ohio. The Board found that Clean Energy’s proposal meets certification requirements and will issue a certificate, but the Board also imposed 23 additional environmental and regulatory conditions. The facility is a 955 megawatt gas-fired, combined cycle power facility with natural gas fired combustion turbines. Clean Energy proposes to begin construction in January 2018 and to begin operation by June 2020.

LNG Exports: Researchers Examine Impact of LNG Exports on Climate
On December 15, 2017, researchers from Washington D.C., the United Kingdom, and Denmark, published a study in the journal, Energy, regarding the effect liquefied natural gas exports (LNG) will have on the climate. The study analyzes U.S. exports of LNG to the four largest LNG importers, which includes China, Japan, India, and South Korea. The researchers examined greenhouse gas emissions from leakage, energy demand growth, and export-driven changes in emissions. The study concludes that “exporting LNG is likely to increase global greenhouse gas emissions.” The study is entitled, US Liquefied Natural Gas Exports: Boom or Bust for the Global Climate?.

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