Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - January 29, 2019

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: FERC Approves Start of Service for Mountaineer XPress Pipeline
On January 16, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued its approval for the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline to begin operating over 100 miles of pipeline and several related facilities in West Virginia. The order also approved service for an additional 500 horsepower at one of the line’s compressor stations. The pipeline is owned by TransCanada and will carry natural gas across the state of West Virginia.  The pipeline is expected to increase natural gas capacity in the state by roughly 2.7 billion cubic feet per day.

Municipal Regulation: Erie, Colorado Extends Oil & Gas Operations Moratorium
On January 22, 2019, the town of Erie, Colorado extended its moratorium on oil and gas operations through August 13, 2019. The Erie Board of Trustees originally imposed the moratorium in July of 2018 and has spent the intervening period considering the regulatory systems of other cities and towns across the state. According to the ordinance, the Board anticipates possible changes to the oil and gas regulatory system emerging from the current session of the Colorado state legislature.  In light of these changes, the Board decided to extend the moratorium for several more months before altering its ordinance.

Electricity Generation: Department of Energy Announces New Funding for Coal and Natural Gas Programs
On January 16 and January 23, 2019, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced two new funding increases for natural gas and coal programs.  On January 16th, DOE issued a Notice of Intent for a Funding Opportunity Announcement for front-end engineering and design studies for coal and natural gas power plants carbon capture systems.  DOE hopes to use the research to retrofit an existing coal-fired power plant for commercial-scale carbon dioxide generation to advance carbon capture, utilization, and storage.  On January 23rd, DOE announced $38 million in funding for research into improving the efficiency and performance of coal-fired power plants across the nation (Improving Efficiency, Reliability, and Flexibility of Existing Coal-Based Power Plants).  According to the press release, coal provides 30 percent of electricity in the U.S. and research will support DOE’s Coal FIRST initiative.  Applications for this funding are due by February 28, 2019.

Pipelines: Court Grants Motion to Vacate Atlantic Coast Pipeline Permit
On January 23, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit granted a motion for remand to vacate and reconsider the Atlantic Coast Pipeline permit application for the Blue Ridge Parkway Segment (Sierra Club v. United States DOI, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 2249).  The motion was filed by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service due in part to the vacatur of a permit for the nearby 680 foot segment in George Washington National Forest Land in December 2018(Sierra Club v. United States DOI., No. 18-2095).  The Sierra Club and other environmental organizations claimed that the National Park Service did not have authority to issue to the permit under the Mineral Leasing Act. According to the motion, the Park Service will vacate the permits and reconsider the impact on environmental and cultural resources.

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
George Bibikos, At the Well Weekly, (January 18, 2019)

Charles Sartain, Colorado Oil and Gas Survives Another Challenge, Energy and the Law (January 24, 2019)

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