Monday, August 13, 2018

Shale Law Weekly Review - August 13, 2018

Written by:
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: Work Stoppage Ordered for Mountain Valley Pipeline
On August 3, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order to stop all construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which is proposed to carry natural gas on a 303-mile route through West Virginia and Virginia. The order follows a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that revoked the pipeline’s construction permit for a three-mile stretch through a national forest. FERC stated in the order that, while it was likely that the pipeline eventually would be given permission to continue construction, it was not clear when the approval would be given and whether it will be necessary to use alternate routes.

Public Lands: Federal Judge Gives BLM Deadline for Study on Mineral Lease Impacts
On July 31, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana issued an order to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to complete its assessment of the effects of oil, gas, and coal leases on climate change by November 29, 2019 (Western Organization of Resource Councils, et al., v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, CV 16-21-GF-BMM). Specifically, the order requires BLM to update their resource management plans for Buffalo, Wyoming and Miles City, Montana. The order follows a ruling by the same court in March of 2018 finding that the agency had not sufficiently considered climate change in its decisions under the National Environmental Policy Act. The March order required that all new or pending leases within the planning areas undergo comprehensive environmental analysis.

Pipelines: Fourth Circuit Revokes Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipeline to Cross Blue Ridge Parkway
On August 6, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a ruling revoking the right-of-way that had been granted to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to build under the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic roadway that runs along the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina (Sierra Club v. U.S. Department of the Interior, No. 18-1082). The plaintiffs successfully argued that the issuing agency, the National Park Service, did not have the authority to grant the right-of-way.

Pipelines: FERC Overrules New York Permit Denial for Northern Access Pipeline
On August 6, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reversed the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) decision denying a permit to the Northern Access Pipeline. The proposed pipeline, which would carry natural gas from northern Pennsylvania to upstate New York, was denied a permit by the New York DEC in April of 2017 after conducting a review lasting thirteen months. FERC’s order found that this was in violation of the Clean Water Act, which requires states to conduct such reviews within one year.

Public Lands: BLM Announces Study of Hydraulic Fracturing Effects on Federal Land in California
On August 8, 2018, the Bureau of Land Management submitted a notice of intent to the Federal Register detailing its plan to conduct a supplemental environmental impact study (EIS) to analyze the impact of hydraulic fracturing on publicly-owned land in California. The supplemental EIS will examine the environmental effects of oil and gas development for new leases on 400,000 acres of public land and 1.2 million acres of Federal mineral estate. The study will focus on air and atmospheric values, water quality and quantity, seismicity, special status species, mineral resources, and socioeconomics. BLM also may develop a Resource Management Plan to evaluate resource issues and concerns.

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:

Pennsylvania Notices
Public notice: “DEP Assesses $148,000 Penalty Against Sunoco for Mariner East 2 Violations in Berks, Chester, and Lebanon Counties” Dept. of Environmental Protection (August 6, 2018).

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This week we published one Shale Law in the Spotlight article: Bankruptcy Filing Reveals Settlement of Water Pollution Claims in Butler County, Pennsylvania

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Check the August Agricultural Law Brief! Each month we compile the biggest legal developments in agriculture. If you’d like to receive this update via email, check out our website and subscribe!

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