Monday, September 24, 2018

Shale Law Weekly Review - September 24, 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.

Federal Lands: BLM Issues Final Rule for Oil and Gas Waste Prevention
On September 18, 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a final rule detailing changes in the way the agency intends to regulate the prevention of methane emissions in oil and gas production on the land that it oversees.  The new rule is entitled, Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation; Rescission or Revision of Certain Requirements.  The new rule would undo many of the changes promulgated in the 2016 Waste Prevention rule, which created requirements for several aspects of oil and gas production, including waste minimization.  The agency stated that there was some overlap of BLM rules with the already-existing rules of several states and tribes.
In response, on September 18, 2018, California and New Mexico filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against BLM (State of California, et al., v. Ryan Zinke, et al., 3:18-cv-05712).  The states allege that in promulgating this final rule, BLM has violated the Administrative Procedure Act, the Mineral Leasing Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.  Specifically, the complaint says the BLM is repealing the 2016 rule without offering a reasoned explanation for the contradictory decision.

Pipelines: FERC Re-Issues Permits for Atlantic Coast Pipeline in North Carolina and West Virginia
On September 17, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission re-issued two permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will allow construction to resume in North Carolina and West Virginia. The permits had previously been revoked in response to an August ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which found that construction may adversely affect protected species in the region. The permits are being re-issued in light of a revised Biological Opinion submitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The revised Biological Opinion includes a modified Incidental Take Statement for the pipeline. In addition, the National Park Service issued a new right-of-way permit for the Blue Ridge Parkway crossing.  The pipeline, when completed, will carry natural gas six hundred miles from West Virginia to eastern North Carolina.

Federal Lands: Interior Department Panel Recommends Changes in Royalties from Public Oil and Gas
On September 13, 2018, the Royalty Policy Committee recommended changes to the formula used to calculate oil and gas royalties for publicly owned land.  The committee was formed last year by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in order to advise on current issues relating to the fair market value for resources on federal and Indian lands.  The proposed changes would allow companies to calculate royalties based either on the amount they were paid for the oil and gas they produced or based on the quality and quantity of gas produced.

Pipelines: Temporary Stay of Construction Issued to Mountain Valley Pipeline for Water Crossing
On September 18, 2018, the Summers and Monroe County Circuit Court issued a temporary stay of the Mountain Valley pipeline (MVP) construction for a river crossing.  The Greenbrier River Watershed Association, and the Indian Creek Watershed Association petitioned the court requesting a stay of the river-crossing permit out of concern that construction would be completed before their case could be heard.  Currently, MVP is planned for construction through the Greenbrier River in Pence Springs.  The petitioners argue that the permit does not comply with the Natural Streams Prevention Act.

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Charles Sartain, What They're Saying About the EPA's Methane Rule, Gray Reed (September 19, 2018)

Pennsylvania Notices
Upcoming Meetings: Senate Environmental Resources & Energy meeting (September 25, 2018)

Public Hearing: regarding application from Penneco to authorize oil and gas waste disposal in Allegheny County (October 1, 2018)

Permit Appeal: On September 22, 2018, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, et al., appeals NPDES permit issued to Brunner Island, LLC for York County facility

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