Jacqueline Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
Methane Emissions: BLM Proposes Revisions to Waste Prevention Rule
On February 12, 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced a proposed rule revising the Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation rule, known as the “venting and flaring rule.” The rule is part of a regulatory review spurred by the 2017 executive order, Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth. The purpose of the revision is to “eliminate duplicative regulatory requirements” and encourage domestic energy production. Public comments on the proposed rule are due within 60 days of the rule’s publication in the Federal Register.
Wastewater Treatment/Disposal: Environmental Groups Sue EPA for Alleged Oil and Gas Pollution in the Gulf
On February 13, 2018, several environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for granting permits allowing oil and gas companies to dispose of leftover waste from drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations in the Gulf of Mexico. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, states that EPA violated the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Specifically, the environmental groups challenge that Clean Water Act permit issued for new and existing offshore oil and gas platforms near Texas and Louisiana. According to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the permit allows oil and gas companies to dump unlimited waste fluid into the Gulf of Mexico. CBD states that the largest concentration of offshore oil and gas drilling activity occurs within this area and tens of billions of gallons of wastewater are deposited yearly.
State Regulation: Colorado Approves New Rules for Flowlines
On February 13, 2018, the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission(COGCC) approved new rules for detecting and preventing spills from flowlines. COGCC began the rulemaking process last year after a broken flowline caused a home explosion in Firestone. The new rules set new installation, testing, and shut-down requirements for flowlines, according to the Associated Press. The new rules can be found here.
Induced Seismicity: Research Suggests Different Seismicity Effects Result from Hydraulic Fracturing Depths
On February 5, 2018, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) published an article that focuses on induced seismicity as a result of hydraulic fracturing. The researchers focused on Harrison County, Ohio where no seismicity was found before 2010 and the arrival of wastewater injection and hydraulic fracturing into the area. The study found induced seismicity in two depth zones, including a shallower zone in Paleozoic rocks and a deeper zone on old faults in the Precambrian basement. The research suggests that induced seismicity at the shallower depth zone created more small-magnitude earthquakes that continued after drilling ceased. They also found that the deeper zones resulted in larger magnitude earthquakes where the seismicity stopped in conjunction with drilling.
Production and Operation: EIA 2016 Year-End Report Shows Increase In Pennsylvania Natural Gas Reserves
On February 13, 2018, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released their Year-end 2016 U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Proved Reserves. Total natural gas proved reserves in the United States in 2016 increased from 324.3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) to 341.1 Tcf. In 2016, Pennsylvania had the greatest shale natural gas proved reserves. In addition, Pennsylvania experienced the highest net increase of natural gas proved reserves with a 6.1 Tcf increase. EIA attributes the significant increase in Pennsylvania’s natural gas reserves to the development of the Marcellus shale.
"Deal reached to bring PennEast Pipeline through Bethlehem watershed" - LeghighValleyLive
"Connecticut Wins Court Fight Over Pennsylvania Plant Pollution" - Hartford Courant
"2017 shale gas well impact fees top $219.4M in Pa." - Shale Gas Reporter
"Recent Cold Convinces New England To Rethink Attitude Toward Pipelines" - Oil and Gas Investor
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See our Global Shale Law Compendium and this week’s article, Shale Governance in the Michigan
Check out this week’s Shale Law in the Spotlight: UPDATE: Current Legal Developments Relating to Bureau of Land Management Rules on Methane Waste Prevention and Hydraulic Fracturing
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