Brennan Weintraub - Research Assistant
Jackie Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
Pipelines: Millennium Valley Lateral Pipeline Receives Approval to Start Service
On July 9, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its approval for the Millennium Pipeline in New York to start service on its Valley Lateral natural gas pipeline. The pipeline is located in Orange County in upstate New York and connects the CPV Valley Energy Center to the existing Millennium Pipeline. The pipeline is one of several that are planned to be brought online in the next few years to prepare for the upcoming retirement of the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County, according to Reuters.
Pipelines: FERC Completes Environmental Assessment of Risberg Line Project
On June 29, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued its Environmental Assessment for the proposed Risberg Line pipeline project. The project would attach to an existing pipeline ending in northwestern Pennsylvania and extend it into northeastern Ohio. The EA found that “approval of this proposal would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.” The project is currently projected to receive final approval in September 2018.
Interstate Commissions: Federal Court Rejects Lawsuit Alleging FERC Bias
On July 10, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously ruled against the Delaware Riverkeeper Network in its challenge to the funding structure of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. FERC, Docket No. 1:16-cv-00416. The lawsuit alleged that the current system, in which FERC receives fees from natural gas companies in order to fund its own natural gas program, unduly biases the agency toward approving interstate natural gas pipelines. The court rejected this argument, holding that Congress provides FERC with its budget and that funding is not directly linked with individual projects. The environmental group also argued that the Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution created a federal property right. This argument also was rejected by the court.
Pipelines: Pa. PUC Rejects Proposal to Reverse Pipeline Flow
On July 12, 2018, the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission unanimously rejected a proposal to reverse the flow of the western half of the Laurel pipeline, which currently carries oil and gas from the Philadelphia area to western parts of the state. Buckeye Partners, the pipeline’s owner, recommended that the western half of the line reverse its flow to carry oil and gas from the Midwest to central Pennsylvania, claiming that the move would lower gas prices in the state.
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Texas Supreme Court Decides Another Fixed-or-Floating Royalty Case, Charles Sartain, Gray Reed (July 12, 2018)
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“Franklin County wants pipeline company to reimburse it for public safety costs” - The Roanoke Times
“In Appalachia’s ‘Alcohol Alley,’ booze purveyors say a pipeline is threatening their industry” - Belt Magazine
“Feds eye changes to a bedrock environmental law” - High Country News
“West Texas sand currently bringing in billions” - Bloomberg
“Two protesters arrested at pipeline construction site in Middletown” - Daily Local News
“Natural gas production spikes in Ohio” - Crain’s Cleveland Business
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This week we published our Shale Law in the Spotlight: Overview of Legal Developments Relating to Shale Gas Development in the Greater Chaco Area of New Mexico; and Pennsylvania DEP Finalizes General Permits for Methane Emissions from Unconventional Natural Gas Production, Processing, and Transmission
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