Monday, May 21, 2018

Shale Law Weekly Review - May 21, 2018

Written by:
Brennan Weintraub - Research Assistant
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal 
developments relevant to shale gas.
Water Quality: University Study Finds No Groundwater Impacts from Drilling
On May 3, 2018, researchers from the University of Cincinnati (Ohio) published a four-year study on the effects of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on the groundwater of the Utica Shale region of Ohio. “We found no relationship between Ch4 [methane] concentration or source in groundwater and proximity to active gas well sites,” said geology professor Amy Townsend-Small and the five other authors of the publication.

Environmental Rights Amendment: Gas Well Permits Don’t Violate PA Constitution, Panel Says
On May 11, 2018, the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board issued its opinion in the Delaware Riverkeeper Network et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania case. The Board found that the state did not breach its constitutional duties as environmental trustee by issuing permits to Rex Energy Corp. to build several natural gas wells in Butler County. The relevant constitutional provision, Art. I, §27, designates the Commonwealth as the trustee of the state’s public natural resources.

Pipelines: Pennsylvania PUC Approves Restart of Mariner East 1 Pipeline
On May 3, 2018, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission unanimously approved a resolution allowing the Mariner East 1 pipeline to resume operations. The pipeline had been shut down after several sinkholes appeared in the area. The owners of the pipeline, Sunoco Pipeline, took “corrective actions,” per the request of the Commission.

Pipelines: Energy Transfer Partners Gets Approval for Additional Rover Facilities
On April 25, 2018, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its approval for the Rover Pipeline to put a compressor station and 51 miles of pipeline into service in northern Ohio. Nearly all of the pipeline and most of the necessary infrastructure is already finished. The entire project is expected to be completed within the next year.

Municipal Regulation: Colorado City Leaders Approve Extension of Hydraulic Fracturing Moratorium
On May 15, 2018, the Boulder City Council unanimously approved an extension of the city’s ban on hydraulic fracturing for another two years. The city has banned the practice since 2013, despite a 2016 ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court striking down a similar ban in Longmont. The Boulder ban, however, has not yet been challenged in court.

International Development: UK Makes Changes in Administration of Shale Gas Development
On May 17, 2018, the UK government announced that it will seek to make changes to regulations governing the exploration and extraction of shale gas. Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business Energy, and Industrial Strategy stated to Parliament that the government would create a new administrative body, the Shale Environmental Regulator, to simplify regulations. He also announced that a new support fund would be created to help local authorities process shale applications.

National Energy Policy: President Trump Alters Policy on Reduction of Energy Usage by Federal Agencies
On May 17, 2018, President Trump issued an executive order which altered requirements established by President Obama for federal agencies to reduce their energy use by 2.5 percent per year, use clean energy sources for 25 percent of their energy needs, and reduce overall water consumption by 36 percent. The new executive order removes the specific targets put into place in 2015 and allows agencies to set their own targets instead.

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