Jacqueline Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
Municipal Regulation: Youngstown Voters Fail to Pass Ballot Initiative on Hydraulic Fracturing
On May 8, 2018, the voters of Youngstown failed to pass the ballot initiative, Youngstown Drinking Water Protection & Fair Elections Bills of Rights. The initiative would have recognized that Youngstown residents have the right to clean water and the right to be free from some types of fossil-fuel development. Initially, the Mahoning County Board of Elections refused to include the initiative on the ballot, but was then compelled to include it by the Ohio Supreme Court. The initiative lost with 56% of the votes against the initiative and 44% in favor.
Pipelines: Louisiana Court Rules Bayou Bridge Pipeline Permit Failed to Follow Guidelines
On April 30, 2018, the 23rd Judicial District Court in Louisiana ruled that the Coast Use Permit issued to Bayou Bridge Pipeline, LLC (Bayou Bridge) failed to apply all pertinent guidelines (Harry Joseph Sr., et al., v. Louisiana Dept. of Natural Resources). The judge stated that the Bayou Bridge pipeline has the potential to impact ecologically sensitive areas such as the Atchafalaya Basin and other wetlands. In the order, the judge remanded the case to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and required Bayou Bridge to develop environmental protection and emergency evacuation plans prior to the continued issuance of the permit. The case was brought by the Gulf Restoration Network, The Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Bold Louisiana, and other environmental groups who argued that DNR did not consider potential pollution, spills, noise and traffic, and other impacts the pipeline would have on the area. For more information on recent Bayou Bridge legal developments, see the Shale Law in the Spotlight: Bayou Bridge Pipeline Project- An Overview of the Current Legal Developments.
State Regulation: New York Governor Proposes Bill to Prohibit Offshore Drilling in New York
On May 4, 2018, New York Governor Cuomo presented a new bill to prohibit offshore drilling and exploration in New York waters. The bill, entitled “Save Our Waters,” will amend New York’s environmental conservation law to prohibit state land leasing for oil or gas production within the North Atlantic Planning Area. The bill also would prohibit the shipment of offshore crude through navigable waters of New York. According to the Governor, the purpose of the bill is to prevent environmental disaster, safeguard New York’s offshore assets, and increase support for renewable energy development.
International Development: International Energy Agency Publishes Offshore Energy OutlookOn May 4, 2018, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published its 2018 Offshore Energy Outlook, a projection of global offshore oil and natural gas production. The study projects forward to 2040 and suggests that all energy-related offshore activity, including wind energy, will increase. According to IEA’s possible scenarios, the offshore energy sector may require $4.6 trillion or $5.9 trillion in cumulative capital spending up through 2040. The study also suggests that there will be a rapid increase in floating drilling facilities, while use of fixed platform facilities are expected to increase more slowly. In addition, the study notes that as more offshore projects are initiated, offshore platform decommissioning will become an increasingly important issue by 2040.
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Environmental Protection
- Pennsylvania to hold public hearing and extend comment period for Sunoco permit modification application
- Pennsylvania announces creation of new grant program with funds collected from Sunoco Pipeline
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