Monday, February 18, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - February 18, 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: Pennsylvania DEP Suspends Permit Approvals for Energy Transfer Pipelines
On February 8, 2019, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced that it has suspended all permit reviews and approvals for Energy Transfer pipelines in the state. DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell stated that this order was due to a lack of compliance with a previous order issued in October 2018 after an explosion along the Revolution pipeline in September of that year. Construction on the Revolution pipeline will remain on hold and additional construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline has also been suspended.

Pipelines: FERC Allows Valley Crossing Pipeline to Commence Service in Texas
On February 7, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its final approval for the Valley Crossing Pipeline to commence service in southern Texas. The pipeline, which is designed to carry natural gas from the Corpus Christi area to the Mexican border, has a capacity of roughly 2.6 billion cubic feet of gas per day. The pipeline turns east from a compressor station in Brownsville and extends roughly thirty miles into the Gulf of Mexico before connecting with another pipeline which carries the natural gas to Mexican markets.

Pipelines: Federal Agencies Petition for Rehearing in Atlantic Coast Pipeline Case
On February 11, 2019, the United States Forest Service and the National Park Service jointly petitioned for en banc and panel rehearing of a case involving the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and its attempted construction on federal land in Virginia and West Virginia (Cowpasture River Preservation Association v. United States Forest Service, No. 18-1144).  The petitioning agencies argued that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit should reverse part of the decision, which held that land surrounding the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is “land within the National Park System.” The agencies argue that this would raise issues regarding many of the existing permits for operations on this land, including power transmission lines and grazing areas.  The agencies asked the court to preclude that portion of the holding from having any precedential effect on subsequent cases. 

Landowner Royalties: EQT Agrees to $53.5 Million Settlement With West Virginia Landowners Alleging Nonpayment of Royalties
On February 7, 2019, a group of West Virginia landowners and EQT Production Co. (EQT) released a settlement agreement reached as part of a class-action lawsuit based on nonpayment of royalties (The Kay Company, LLC v. EQT Production Company, No. 1-13-CV-151).  This class action lawsuit was brought by landowners in 2013, who alleged fraud, violation of the flat rate royalty statute, and improper post-production cost deductions from royalty payments.  As part of the agreement, EQT will pay $53.5 million into a settlement fund, to be distributed to the landowners in the class. Additionally, EQT has agreed to stop deducting certain post-production costs from royalty payments in the future.

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Charles Sartain, The Green New Deal: It’s Not Just About Energy, Energy and the Law (February 13, 2019)

Meghan Nylin, Anti-SLAPP in the Oil Patch, Oil and Gas Update (February 15, 2019)

John McFarland, Big Oil and Climate Change, Oil and Gas Lawyer Blog (February 11, 2019)

Pennsylvania Legislation:
HB 492: would require the PUC to create a toll-free hotline for reporting natural gas pipeline emergencies (Referred to Consumer Affairs - Feb. 12, 2019)

Meetings: Joint public hearing on PA Farm Bill proposal (Agriculture & Rural Affairs - Mar. 20, 2019)

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