Monday, July 15, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - July 15, 2019

Written by:
Sara Jenkins - 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.

Infrastructure: Environmental Group files Lawsuit Against Washington State for Issuing Permit for LNG Facility 
On July 9, 2019, the Advocates for a Cleaner Tacoma (ACT) filed a Petition for Judicial Review of Agency Action against the Washington State Department of Ecology for issuing a permit for a liquified natural gas (LNG) facility (Advocates for a Cleaner Tacoma v. Washington State Dep’t of Ecology). According to the Petition, the Department issued Administrative Order 13764, granting water quality certification for Puget Sound Energy, Inc.’s proposed LNG facility. ACT contends that the Department violated the State Environmental Policies Act by issuing the permit even though analysis of greenhouse gas emissions for the LNG facility project was determined to be inadequate. The Puget Sound Energy LNG facility is being constructed at the Port of Tacoma, and is expected to be used to fuel ships, and to provide natural gas for local and commercial customers. According to the project’s website, the facility will be too small to be used for LNG exports.

Pipelines: Dakota Access Seeks to Waive Hearing Requirements for Additional Pipeline Pump Station 
On July 10, 2019, the North Dakota Public Service Commission (Commission) issued a Notice of Opportunity for Hearing following a request by Dakota Access, LLC, to waive hearing requirements for an additional Dakota Access pipeline pump station. According to the notice, the additional station would be located in Emmons County and would transport up to 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day. Dakota Access filed an application to amend the pipeline’s current Certificate of Corridor Compatibility 179 and Route Permit 191 to allow for the additional pump station. The Commission is accepting written public comments on the application. Additionally, those with an interest in the project can file a request for hearing on the matter. The notice states that the Commission may make a decision without a hearing.

Production and Operation: Energy Information Administration Releases Short-Term Energy Outlook
On July 9, 2019, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its Short-Term Energy Outlook (forecast). Some highlights from the forecast include an increase in global oil production by 0.1 million barrels per day over the next year, due to the expected decrease in oil demand for 2019. The forecast also states the “U.S. crude oil production averaged 11.0 million b/d in 2018, up 1.6 million b/d from 2017, achieving a record high for total production and year-over-year growth.” Average gas prices for June were lower than May and are expected to remain around $2.65 per gallon in 2019 and $2.76 per gallon in 2020. The forecast predicts that U.S. electricity generation from coal will continue to decline, along with the use of nuclear power.

Public Health: Ohio Department of Natural Resources Works to Correct Data Used in University of Toledo Hydraulic Fracturing Study 
On June 21, 2019, Athens News published an article stating the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) was working with the University of Toledo to correct data used in the University study associating indoor radon levels with hydraulic fracturing activities. The University also now includes a note in the news release of the study, stating the University was working with the ODNR to “examine the terminology used in this study related to fracking wells.” The study titled, Impact of the Hydraulic Fracturing on Indoor Radon Concentrations in Ohio: A Multilevel Modeling Approach, was published by Frontiers in Public Health on April 10, 2019. According to Athens News, the study incorrectly stated the total number of deep-shale hydraulic wells in Ohio, as well as incorrectly stated the number of deep-shale wells in certain counties in the state. Mark Bruce, a spokesperson for the ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resource Management told Athens News that “[t]he Division is ready to help the authors [of the study] utilize and analyze oil and gas well data so that cited information is presented accurately because currently the Division is confident it is not.”

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:

Ann Navaro & Christine Wyman, Highlights from the Trump Administration’s Rulemaking Agenda, (July 9, 2019)

Pennsylvania Legislation:
Act 20: Provides for transfer of money from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund into the Marcellus Legacy Fund (Enacted from SB 712 - June 28, 2019).

Act 1A: Details Oil and Gas Lease Fund Appropriations (Enacted from HB 790 - June 28, 2019)

Act 14A: Details federal appropriation amounts for natural gas pipeline safety (Enacted from SB 242 - June 28, 2019)

SB619: would amend the Clean Streams Law to only require reporting to DEP if the unauthorized discharge could cause a violation of water quality or if it is reportable under federal requirements (Third consideration and final passage (Senate), Referred to Environmental Resources and Energy (House) - June 27, 2019)

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