Jacqueline Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
Induced Seismicity: Oklahoma Changes Drilling Protocol to Address Seismicity
On February 27, 2018, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) issued a new protocol in order to address induced seismicity resulting from oil and gas development. OCC protocol now requires that all operators conducting hydraulic fracturing activities must use a seismic array to see real-time seismicity readings. The protocol decreases the earthquake magnitude (ML) levels where operators must take action from 2.5ML to 2.0ML. In addition, operators will be required to pause activities for 6 hours when seismicity reaches 2.5ML, instead of the previously required 3.0ML.
Pipelines: Virginia District Court Grants Atlantic Coast Pipeline Access to Land for Tree Felling
On February 28, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia granted the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC’s (ACP) motions for summary judgment in several cases involving landowner disputes over easements. Defendants in the case are landowners of properties in Virginia where construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is planned. APC filed motions for summary judgment after failing to obtain easements with these landowners. ACP argues that they need immediate possession of the parcels so that tree felling will be completed by mid-March in order to comply with the Migratory Bird Act. The court is allowing ACP immediate access to the properties but is requiring ACP to post a security bond so that landowners will be fully compensated subject to a final determination of value.
Pipelines: Court Orders Construction of Bayou Bridge Pipeline Expansion to Cease
On February 27, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana granted a motion for preliminary injunction, effectively halting construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline project (Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, et al., v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 18-23-SDD-EWD). The project is a 163 mile expansion of existing pipeline that will run from Lake Charles, Louisiana, to St. James, Louisiana. The project will consist of a 24-inch pipe and transport crude oil. Opponents to the project argue that construction of the pipeline will damage century old trees and valuable cypress forest swamp as well as the overall ecology of the Basin. The court granted the order to prevent “further irreparable harm until this matter can be tried on the merits.”
Frac Sand: USGS Announces Study Suggesting That River Sediment May Be Used as Frac SandOn February 27, 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) issued a press release on a recent study suggesting that sediment from the Missouri River Basin could be used a proppant in hydraulic fracturing. The researchers removed samples of sediment from the Missouri River and analyzed them using protocols from the American Petroleum Institute. They found that sand coming from the Nebraska Sand Hills and flowing into the Missouri River could potentially be used as suitable proppant or “frac sand.” The researchers also suggest that use of river sediment for hydraulic fracturing could help mitigate the cost of removing excess sediment from river basins. The study is entitled, Suitability of River Delta Sediment as Proppant, Missouri and Nibrara Rivers, Nebraska and South Dakota.
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