Monday, August 6, 2018

Shale Law Weekly Review - August 6, 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: U.S. Fourth Circuit Revokes Virginia Permit for Mountain Valley Pipeline
On July 27, 2018, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously decided to revoke a permit that would have allowed for construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline across Jefferson National Forest in southwestern Virginia (Sierra Club v. United States Forest Service, No. 17-2399). The court ruled that the environmental review conducted by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management had been insufficient and ordered the agencies to reconsider the impact of the pipeline on the forest.

Pipelines: U.S. Fourth Circuit Rejects Challenge to Mountain Valley Pipeline
On August 1, 2018, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge by Sierra Club to the Virginia State Water Control Board’s water quality certification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (Sierra Club v. State Water Control Board, No. 17-2406). The agency found that it had a “reasonable assurance” that state waterways would not be harmed by the pipeline, a standard which Sierra Club challenged as insufficient to protect the state’s water quality. The court, however, determined that the agency’s certification decision was appropriate, and not arbitrary or capricious.  

LNG Exports: Department of Energy Issues Final Rule for Small Scale LNG Exports
On July 26, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy published its final rule regarding natural gas exports to nations lacking a free trade agreement with the United States. The rule applies to export applications of up to 51.75 bcf/year, and approval of the application will not require an environmental impact statement or environmental assessment.  Prior to the new rule, which goes into effect on August 24th, such exports required a public interest review. The new rule, Small-Scale Natural Gas Exports, will include such shipments under the category of “small-scale natural gas exports” under the Natural Gas Act.

Pipelines: Pennsylvania Appeals Court Denies Environmental Group’s Appeal
On August 1, 2018, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued a decision denying an appeal by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (Riverkeeper) in their lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Riverkeeper unsuccessfully challenged a state water quality certification for the PennEast pipeline earlier this year (Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. Department of Environmental Protection, No. 1571 C.D. 2017). This decision by the court affirms that Riverkeeper had no legal justification for failing to file a timely appeal. The proposed pipeline is designed to carry natural gas from northeastern Pennsylvania to central New Jersey.

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Charles Sartain, Texas Court Tells Plaintiffs How to Recover Title to Property, Gray Reed (July 31, 2018)

Pennsylvania Notices
Rescission of Technical Guidance, DEP is rescinding the technical guidance document for policies and procedures to be followed by administrative staff in processing oil and gas documents (June 30, 2018).

Public Notice of draft NPDES General Permit for Discharges from Petroleum Product Contaminated Groundwater Remediation Systems (July 28, 2018).

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