Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - March 12, 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.

State Regulation: Colorado Senate Committee Advances Oil and Gas Safety Bill
On March 5, 2019, the Colorado Senate Transportation and Energy Committee voted 4-3 to favorably refer SB 181 to the Senate Finance Committee. The bill, entitled “Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations,” seeks to expand local government control over oil and gas operations, increase monitoring of methane emissions, and protect public health, safety, and welfare. Additionally, the bill would alter the composition of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission by reducing the number of commissioners required to have experience in the oil and gas industry and increasing the number required to have experience in fields like wildlife protection, environmental protection, and public health.

International Development: Norwegian Government Approves Gradual Divestment of Oil and Gas Companies
On March 8, 2019, the Norwegian Ministry of Finance announced its proposal to begin the process of excluding oil and gas exploration and production companies from its Government Pension Fund Global. The goal of this divestment, the Ministry said, is to reduce the risk of changing oil prices on the national economy and to mitigate the impacts of climate change. At this time, the government is proposing divestment only from companies that are classified by FTSE Russell as exploration and production companies.  Companies that are more broadly classified remain eligible for inclusion in the fund.

Pipelines: South Dakota Legislature Passes Pipeline Protest Bill
On March 7, 2019, the South Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill establishing the PEACE (Pipeline Engagement Activity Coordination Expenses) fund, which would reimburse the state or localities within the state for expenses incurred due to opposition to pipeline construction. The fund would be comprised of an initial deposit made by all pipeline companies operating in the state and the levying of a special fee on the companies each month, based on the total approved claims from the previous month. The South Dakota Senate passed the same bill on March 4.

International Development: English High Court Finds for Environmental Group in Hydraulic Fracturing Suit
On March 6, 2019, English law firm Leigh Day announced that Justice Dove of the English High Court of Justice had issued his opinion in a case involving a challenge to the nation’s current hydraulic fracturing policy (Claire Stephenson v. Secretary of State for Housing and Communities and Local Government, CO/3511/2018). Specifically, Talk Fracking, an environmental advocacy group, alleged that the government had not sufficiently taken into consideration scientific evidence related to the climate effects of hydraulic fracturing. The court found that the government had not considered all relevant scientific evidence before forming its current policy and will now solicit suggestions from the parties as to what the government will be required to do.

Pipelines: TransCanada Receives Full Approval for Mountaineer XPress Pipeline  
On February 26, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted full approval to Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC (Columbia) to commence service on the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline (Docket No. CP16-357-000). Columbia, owned by TransCanada, requested approval for service on February 13, 2019.  The final approval will allow service for 30 miles of pipeline, four pig launchers/receivers, a regulating station, as well as other facilities.  According to TransCanada, the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline includes 170 miles of 36-inch diameter pipeline that is designed to transport 2.7 bcf/day of natural gas.

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
George Bibikos, At the Well Weekly (March 8, 2019)

Pennsylvania Legislation:
HB 679: would require drilling operators to use tracers in hydraulic fracturing fluids (Referred to Environmental Resources and Energy - Mar. 1, 2019)

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