Monday, September 9, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - September 9, 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.

Municipal Regulation: Adams County, Colorado Approves Changes to Oil and Gas Regulations
On September 3, 2019, the Adams County Board of Commissioners voted to approve changes to the county’s oil and gas regulations.  The new regulations were approved following the implementation of Colorado’s Senate Bill 19-181, which expanded the power of local governments to implement oil and gas regulations that address impacts to public health and the environment.  The new regulations include safety requirements, operational standards, and information on obtaining permits for new oil and gas facilities.  Board Chair Steve O’Dorisio said in a statement, “[O]ur staff has been hard at work creating a set of regulations that is fair to the industry but also provides for the safety of our residents.”  According to the county’s news release, Adams County set out to “establish regulations that allow for reasonable development of oil and gas . . . while ensuring that facilities are sited in appropriate areas.” 

Pipelines: Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection Issues $319,000 in Penalties Against Mariner East 2 Pipeline
On August 29, 2019, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued $319,000 in penalties against Sunoco Pipeline, LP for Mariner East 2 pipeline construction violations.  The first penalty was issued in 2017 for violations concerning “accelerated erosion and sedimentation” at several construction sites.  The second penalty was issued to Sunoco Pipeline, LP for violations of the Clean Streams Law and Dam Safety and Encroachment Act that occurred in 2018. More specifically, the violations stemmed from “unauthorized discharges of drilling fluids” into wetlands and tributaries in several counties.   The Mariner East pipeline project has been issued more than 80 violations and accrued $13 million in penalties.  The project is expected to expand the existing pipeline for transporting natural gas from Ohio to Delaware County, Pennsylvania. 

National Energy Policy: Institute for Energy Research Files Lawsuit Against USDA to Release Documents on the Renewable Fuel Standard Regulatory Process
On September 5, 2019, the Institute for Energy Research (IER) filed a Complaint against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to compel the release of documents under the Freedom of Information Act (Institute for Energy Research v. USDA, No. 19-2654).  The Complaint alleges that USDA had 20 working days to respond to a request for records, but it had not responded after five months.  IER’s request letter states the documents sought are to obtain information regarding lobbyist efforts surrounding the “mandate of using food crops as transportation fuel.”  According to IER’s press release, the public has an interest in any efforts by Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky to influence the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) regulatory process.  Additionally, IER claims that any involvement in lobbying efforts would “materially benefit” Mr. Censky’s former employer, the American Soybean Association, “[g]iven that soybeans are the second largest source of biofuels used for compliance with RFS.”  

LNG Exports: FERC Formally Accepts Commonwealth LNG’s Permit Application
On September 3, 2019, Commonwealth Projects, LLC, announced that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission accepted its filing application for a liquified natural gas (LNG) project permit.  The project consists of constructing one LNG plant with six liquefaction trains and facilities.  The trains are expected to have a total liquefaction capacity of 8.4 million metric tonnes per annum.  Further, the project will include a three-mile pipeline that will connect the LNG facility with existing pipelines to transport gas to the project.  The project is located on the U.S. Gulf Coast near Cameron, Louisiana.  Commonwealth LNG expects to begin operations of the new facility in 2024. 

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
George Bibikos, At the Well Weekly, (August 30, 2019)

Charles Sartain, Cyberspace Saves an Out-of-State Oil Company, (September 5, 2019)

John McFarland, Unit-Line Allocation Wells, (August 30, 2019)

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