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.
GHG Emissions: Pennsylvania Joins U.S. Climate Alliance and Releases PA Climate Action Plan
On April 29, 2019, the Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan and announced that Pennsylvania will join the U.S. Climate Alliance. Pennsylvania’s Climate Action Plan is a report and climate solution assessment prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. It establishes the Green Government Council and recommends 100 actions to reduce emissions. The Plan includes the creation of an efficiency program for natural gas, as well as new policies and practices to reduce emissions from oil and gas operations. In addition, policies under the Plan will encourage the use of domestically produced natural gas through regulation, the impact fee, and local ordinances. To reduce emissions from electricity generation, the Plan suggests meeting these goals by shifting from coal-fired generation to natural gas electricity generation. By joining the U.S. Climate Alliance (Alliance), Governor Wolf joins a bipartisan coalition of 24 governors working to develop climate solutions in each state. The Alliance was formed to advance the goals of the Paris Agreement and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025. The Alliance promotes clean energy policies and boasts the creation of over 1.7 million renewable energy jobs.
LNG Exports: Department of Energy Grants Approval for Two Natural Gas Export Terminals
On May 2, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) granted approval for two liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals, the Driftwood LNG LLC export facility (Driftwood) and the Port Arthur LNG, LLC export facility (Port Arthur). Driftwood will be constructed in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana and will be operated by Tellurian Inc. The latest DOE approval will allow Driftwood to export 1,415.3 Bcf of natural gas per year (3.88 Bcf/d) for 20 years to non-FTA countries. Port Arthur will be constructed in Port Arthur, Texas and operated by Sempra Energy. The DOE approval grants Port Arthur an increase from its previous application for 517 Bcf of natural gas per year and will now allow the export of 689 Bcf/yr (1.91 Bcf/d). According to the DOE press release, the U.S. has been a net exporter of natural gas for the past three years, in part due to the export of domestic LNG.
GHG Emissions: Canadian Appeals Court Holds in Favor of National Carbon Tax
On May 3, 2019, the Court of Appeals for Saskatchewan held that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (Act) is not unconstitutional and falls within the legislative authority of Parliament (In the matter of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, 2019 SKCA 40). The Act will require fuel distributors to pay a charge to the government, depending on the type of fuel and the province. The Act provides exemptions for farmers, fishermen, air carriers, and marine carriers. The purpose of the Act is to create a national price on greenhouse gas emissions in order to minimize the effects of emissions on climate change.
Wastewater Treatment/Disposal: Study Examines the Impact of Fluid Injection on Aseismic Slip
On May 3, 2019, a study examining the occurrence of earthquakes resulting from fluid injection was published in Science. The study looks at potential seismic activity occurring as a result of fluid injection relating to geothermal or oil and gas operations. The study is titled Fluid-Induced Aseismic Fault Slip Outpaces Pour-Fluid Migration and was produced from a collaboration of researchers from Tufts University and the Indian Institute of Technology. The researchers observed controlled fluid injection to study whether injection could cause perceptible surface displacement, or aseismic slip. According to the researchers, aseismic slip could be observed more quickly and at a greater distance than the injection fluid.
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Charles Sartain, Oil Field Technology . . . and a Texas Bill Aimed at Royalty Owners, (May 2, 2019)
HB954: would require public notice to be given to communities where a natural gas drilling permit has been submitted (Referred to Environmental Resources and Energy - April 29, 2019)
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“NY Senate to hold hearing on fossil fuel divestment” - Associated Press
“Oil companies’ profits fall on geopolitics and declining prices” - Wall Street Journal
“Drilling down: Boom times in Texas’ least populated county” - My San Antonio
“Sinkhole forms in Delaware County, Pa. on Mariner East 2 route” - Shale Gas Reporter
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This week we published two new Shale Law in the Spotlight articles: Shale Law in the Spotlight – President Trump’s Executive Order on Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth and Shale Law in the Spotlight – President Trump’s Executive Order on the Issuance of Permits for Cross-Border Infrastructure Projects.