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: FERC Allows Some Construction to Continue on Mountain Valley Pipeline
On August 15, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order modifying a previous Stop Work Order issued to Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC. (MVP). The Stop Work Order was issued on August 3, 2018, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated MVP’s right-of-way and temporary use permits. The modification will allow MVP to continue construction on 77 miles of the pipeline. According to FERC, approximately 80 percent of the area has already been cleared. FERC stated that erosion or soil movement could negatively affect plant and wildlife habitat and nearby water bodies. The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 301-mile natural gas pipeline that will extend from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia.
GHG Emissions: EPA Proposes New Emissions Rule for Coal Plants
On August 21, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the proposed Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule to establish new emissions guidelines from coal-fired power plants. According to EPA, the ACE rule is intended to replace the 2015 Clean Power Plan. The rule would establish new guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal power plants. The ACE rule incentivizes efficiency improvements, provides states more time to develop plans, and provides states with a list of technologies that could be used to establish performance standards. The rule is expected to reduce regulatory burdens for power plants and save $6.4 billion in compliance costs, as compared to the previous Clean Power Plan.
Pipelines: Canadian Supreme Court Dismisses Application to Appeal Trans Mountain Pipeline Decision
On August 23, 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an application for leave to appeal from the City of Burnaby (Burnaby) in a lawsuit with Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC (Trans Mountain). Burnaby filed this appeal following the National Energy Board’s (Board) decision that Burnaby’s environmental bylaws did not apply to Trans Mountain. According to Burnaby, the city’s bylaws include protections against tree cutting for construction activities. Trans Mountain requested approval to begin construction from Burnaby in June 2017. By October 2017, the application remained incomplete and Trans Mountain brought this suit against Burnaby. The Board determined that Burnaby’s bylaw review process caused unreasonable delay and in the present decision, the Canadian Supreme Court agreed. (City of Burnaby v. Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC, et al., 38104)
LNG Exports: Cheniere Energy Receives Approval to Begin Production at Texas LNG Export Terminal
On August 16, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave Cheniere Energy approval to begin the commissioning phase in its new LNG export terminal in Corpus Christi, Texas. Approval for the terminal includes Train 1 and dry flare systems, but does not permit hazardous fluids to be introduced into other project facilities. Cheniere Energy began the pre-filling process in December 2011 and the company expects the project to be in service by the end of 2018. The terminal will consist of seven LNG trains with an aggregate production capacity of 9.5 million tonnes per annum.
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Amie Alexander, Federal Court Issues WOTUS Ruling, National Agricultural Law Center (August 27, 2018)
Charles Sartain, Anti-Washout Clause Defeated by the Rule Against Perpetuities, Gray Reed (August 22, 2018)
Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive ShaleLaw HotLinks:
"Federal officials pledge readiness for pipeline spills" - Seattle Times
"Virginia governor advised to freeze permits for Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley gas pipelines" - S&P Global Platts
"Chesapeake nears settlement in Pennsylvania royalty class-action suit" - Shale Gas Reporter
"Virginia regulators consider revoking permits for two major gas pipelines, but settle for stricter enforcement" - Washington Post
"Marcellus companies resist increased permit fee proposal" - Shale Gas Reporter
"Report: Frac sand companies seeing 'extreme' growth in demand" - San Antonio Business Journal
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This week we published a new Shale Law in the Spotlight article: Environmental Groups Challenge North Dakota Department of Health's Grant of Permit to Construct Oil Refinery Near Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
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