Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Shale Law Weekly Review - October 30, 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: Virginia DEQ Approves Atlantic Coast Pipeline Environmental Protection Plans
On October 19, 2018, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality approved three environmental protection plans submitted by Dominion Energy as part of its Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. The plans will seek to control erosion and sediment, manage stormwater runoff, and protect the “karst” geography of the area. The pipeline, once completed, will carry 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina. Dominion Energy currently expects to begin service in late 2019.

Pipelines: Landowners in Pipeline Eminent Domain Case Request Review by the U.S. Supreme Court
On October 23, 2018, a group of landowners contesting the use of eminent domain for the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court. The landowners’ lawsuit was dismissed at both the federal district and appellate levels for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.

Pipelines: Army Corps Suspends Two More Water Crossing Permits for Mountain Valley Pipeline
On October 19, 2018, the U.S. Department of the Army Corps of Engineers (Army) suspended two additional Nationwide Permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project.  The two permits apply to 32 miles of proposed pipeline located in Wetzel and Harrison Counties, West Virginia.  Water crossing impacts for these permits include 59 stream crossings and 62 wetland crossings.  Army is suspending these permits in light of permit suspensions from earlier this month.  The October 2, 2018, suspension applied to water crossings within the Huntington District and the October 5, 2018, permit suspension applied to water crossings in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  According to Mountain Valley Pipeline, as of October 22, 2018, there are no pipeline crossings in waters of the U.S. currently under construction.

State Regulation: Study Finds That Colorado Oil & Gas Proposition Could Limit Access to Minerals
On October 19, 2018, Professor Peter Maniloff of the Colorado School of Mines published his analysis of the potential effects of Proposition 112 on oil and gas drilling in the state. The proposition, if passed, would require all drilling sites in Colorado be at least 2500 feet away from “vulnerable areas,” including schools and residences. Professor Maniloff found that roughly 15 percent of non-federal land in the state would be available for drilling, though he noted that 42 percent of non-federal subsurface would be accessible through horizontal drilling.

Water Quality: Penn State Study Examines Mussel Shells to Track Oil and Gas Drilling Chemicals
On October 22, 2018, Penn State News announced a new research study on the effects of hydraulic fracturing wastewaters on the freshwater mussel.  The researchers collected freshwater mussels from upstream and downstream of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System-permitted facility.  Researchers also collected mussels from areas in the Juniata and Delaware Rivers where there is no oil and gas wastewater discharge.  The researchers found changes in the shells of mussels that corresponded to the time period of wastewater disposal in 2009-2011.  The researchers state that freshwater mussels could be “used to monitor changes in water chemistry through time and help identify pollutant sources.”  The study, Accumulation of Marcellus Formation Oil and Gas Wastewater Metals in Freshwater Mussel Shells, was published in Environmental Science & Technology.

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Charles Sartain, Colorado Proposition 112: What's the Fuss About?, Gray Reed (October 25, 2018)

Conrad Hester and Sam Fubara, Existential [Lease] Crisis: Crow v. Lookadoo and When a Lease is in Existence, Thompson & Knight (October 28, 2018)

Pennsylvania Legislation
HB 2746: Referred to Consumer Affairs (October 19, 2018) legislation would prohibit natural gas lines from being built within 100 meters from a “dwelling house.”

HB 2154: Re-reported as committed from Appropriations (Oct. 17, 2108) act would re-enact Oil and Gas Act of 1984 with various changes

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