Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - February 26, 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: Montana Federal Court Partially Reaffirms Stay on Keystone XL Preliminary Activities
On February 15, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana issued a supplemental order regarding its November 2018 ruling granting an injunction on pre-construction activities related to the Keystone XL pipeline (Indigenous Environmental Network v. U.S. Department of State, CV-17-29-GF-BMM). TransCanada, the company building the Keystone XL pipeline, requested that the court allow it to engage in activities to prepare for the eventual construction of the pipeline, such as preparing pipe storage and container yards, transporting pipe, and building construction camps. In the supplemental order, the court agreed to allow some activities to commence, but reaffirmed the stay on building construction camps. The court reasoned that the areas set aside for pipe storage and container yards had already been surveyed for cultural resources and would take place entirely on private land that had already been granted permits by local authorities. The areas set aside for construction camps, however, had not yet met those requirements.

Pipelines: North Dakota Senate Passes Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill
On February 15, 2019, the North Dakota Senate passed a bill which lays out the penalties for interfering or tampering with pipelines and other critical infrastructure in the state. The bill would make intentional tampering with pipelines a class C felony, while knowing or reckless tampering would constitute a class A misdemeanor. The bill, in addition to protecting oil and natural gas pipelines, also identifies electrical stations, chemical plants, cell towers, dams, and other facilities as critical infrastructure subject to these protections.

Pipelines: Federal Court Denies Petitions for Review of Mountain Valley Pipeline Certificate
On February 19, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order denying several petitions for review of a certificate issued for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (Appalachian Voices, et al., v FERC, 17-1271). The case was brought in 2017 by several environmental organizations who challenged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) issuance of a certificate of public convenience and necessity to the Mountain Valley Pipeline.  The petitioners argue that FERC violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by failing to adequately analyze greenhouse-gas effects and other potentially negative impacts. The court rejected this argument, stating that FERC did not violate NEPA and finding the petitioners’ arguments to be without merit.

LNG Export: FERC Approves Pipeline and LNG Export Terminal in Louisiana
On February 21, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order approving a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal and natural gas pipeline system.  Venture Global Calcasieu, LLC will site, construct, and operate the LNG export terminal located on the Calcasieu Ship Channel in Louisiana.  TransCameron Pipeline, LLC will construct and operate the pipeline system, East Lateral, which will consist of 23.4 miles of 42-inch pipe in Cameron Parish, Louisiana.  According to FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee, this project represents “a new approach for consideration of direct greenhouse gas emissions from LNG facilities.”

GHG Emissions: Study Examines Black Carbon Emission Sources
On February 13, 2019, several universities published research focusing on year-round observations of emission sources for black carbon. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), black carbon is an air pollutant emitted from gas and diesel engines, coal plants, and other fossil fuel processes.  EPA states that when black carbon particles cover snow and ice in the Arctic it increases ice melt.  In the study, by using year-round investigation, researchers found consistent seasonal variations in black carbon sources. According to the researchers, sources of black carbon were consistent with fossil fuel combustion in winter and biomass burning during the summer.  The study is titled, Source Apportionment of Circum-Arctic Atmospheric Black Carbon from Isotopes and Modeling, and can be found in the online publication, Science Advances.

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
George Bibikos, At the Well Weekly, (February 22, 2019)

John McFarland, Gas Flaring in the Permian, Oil and Gas Lawyer Blog (February 21, 2019)

Pennsylvania Legislation:
SB 305: Would entitle property owners compensation for Delaware River Basin Commission gas drilling moratorium (Referred to Environmental Resources and Energy - Feb. 19, 2019)
HB 534: would allow construction sites that disturb between 1-5 acres, to apply for a waiver of a NPDES permit (Referred to Environmental Resources and Energy - Feb. 19, 2019)

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