Monday, November 5, 2018

Shale Law Weekly Review - November 5, 2018

Written by:
Brennan Weintraub - Research Assistant
Jackie Schweichler - Staff Attorney

The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.

Pipelines: Catholic Sisters Petition the Supreme Court in Lawsuit Against Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline
On October 19, 2018, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, a Catholic sisterhood in Pennsylvania, have submitted a petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States in their case against the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. The group alleges that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), in allowing the pipeline to be built on their land, has obstructed their free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. A Pennsylvania federal court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals have both dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the group should have taken their complaint to FERC before raising it in federal court.   The Atlantic Sunrise project will add 1.7 dth/day of pipeline capacity to the Williams Transcontinental pipeline.

Pipelines: Pennsylvania DEP Prohibits Continued Construction on Revolution Pipeline
On October 30, 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a Field Order to ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC (ETC) regarding their Revolution Pipeline.  DEP’s order requires ETC to repair erosion control features and stabilize disturbed areas.  The order also “prohibits additional construction and field work without DEP approval.” DEP issued this order in light of the September 10, 2018, explosion that occurred in Center Township, Beaver County.  In the ongoing investigation, DEP found unreported landslides, impacts to water resources, construction in unapproved areas, and other violations.

Pipelines: FERC Issues Draft Guidance for Horizontal Drilling Plans
On October 26, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued draft guidance to help operators develop Horizontal Directional Drilling Plans (HDD Plans) in the construction of pipelines.  The guidance was issued to assist industry operators in improving their HDD Plans and make FERC’s environmental review process more efficient and effective.  FERC will be accepting public comments on the draft guidance until December 28, 2018.  The guidance is entitled, Guidance for Horizontal Directional Drilling Monitoring, Inadvertent Return Response, and Contingency Plans and was published in the Federal Register on November 2, 2018.

LNG Exports: FERC Issues Draft EIS for Texas LNG Project
On October 26, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Texas LNG Project.  The project would include a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Brownsville, Texas.  Texas LNG plans to begin construction in 2019 and to complete Phase 1 of the project by 2023.  The project, once completed, would have a total production capacity of four million metric tons of LNG per year.  In the draft EIS, FERC determined that the project will “result in adverse impacts to the environment,” but that these impacts would not be significant if appropriate mitigation measures recommended by FERC are implemented.  Additionally, FERC noted that this project, in combination with the other LNG projects in the area, would result in significant sediment and shoreline erosions, ocelot and jaguarundi habitat loss, and loss of visual resources.  According to FERC, however, these environmental impacts are mostly temporary or short-term in nature.

Methane Emissions: CSU Study Seeks to Explain Disparity in Methane Emissions Measurements
On October 29, 2018, researchers at Colorado State University published a study examining the reasons for disparate methane emissions estimates from natural gas production.  The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that releases of methane during daytime maintenance of natural gas facilities might be a contributing factor for contrasting estimates.  These activities, which can result in the atmospheric venting of some methane, often occur during the times when research aircraft measuring emissions would fly over the sites.  According to the researchers, methane emissions taken with different timescales can result in widely varying estimates.  (Temporal variability largely explains top-down/bottom-up difference in methane emission estimates from a natural gas production region)

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Tiffany Challe, New Book: Climate Change, Public Health, and the Law, Climate Law Blog (October 25, 2018)

Pennsylvania Notices
Public Hearings regarding: Air Quality Plan Approvals for Proposed Compressor Stations in Delaware, Bucks Counties(December 4, 2018)

Meeting CancellationEnvironmental Quality Board meeting for November 13, 2018 is cancelled. The next meeting is scheduled for December 18, 2018.

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