Monday, October 14, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - October 14, 2019

Written by:
Chloe Marie – Research Specialist
Jackie Schweichler – Staff Attorney

The following information is an update of recent local, state, national and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
Pipelines: U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Appeal in Atlantic Coast Pipeline Case
On October 4, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States granted a writ of certiorari agreeing to hear an appeal of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit’s decision in a case related to the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (Cowpasture River Preservation Association v. Forest Service, No. 18-1587).  In this case, the Cowpasture River Preservation Association (CRPA) asked the Court of Appeals to revoke a Special Use Permit issued by the U.S. Forest Service in January 2018.  The permit allows Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC to use and occupy National Forest System lands as well as to cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (ANST).  CRPA alleged that the Forest Service did not have statutory authority to grant a right-of-way across the ANST pursuant to the Mineral Leasing Act and National Trails System Act, among other things.  On December 13, 2018, the Court of Appeals issued a ruling in favor of CRPA and vacated the Special Use Permit and remanded the matter to the Forest Service for further proceedings.  On June 25, 2019, the Forest Service filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court asking “Whether the Forest Service has authority to grant rights-of-way under the Mineral Leasing Act through lands traversed by the Appalachian Trail within national forests.”

International Development: Scotland Will Not Grant Licenses for Unconventional Oil and Gas Development
On October 3, 2019, the Scottish government announced a finalized policy under which the government will no longer support unconventional oil and natural gas development within the country.  Going forward, new licenses will not be issued for unconventional development, including coalbed methane extraction and hydraulic fracturing.  According to the statement, this decision was partly based on the determination that unconventional oil and gas development is incompatible with Scotland’s climate change policy.  Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse issued a statement affirming that this policy decision supports the government’s commitment to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.  Minister Wheelhouse also stated that a legislative ban is not currently under consideration but could be considered in the future.

Production and Operation: USGS Assessment Shows Increase of Natural Gas Reserves in the Appalachian Basin
On October 3, 2019, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released new assessments of undiscovered technically recoverable natural gas resources in the Marcellus Shale and the Point Pleasant-Utica Shale formations.  The USGS assessment of the Marcellus Shale estimates that the formation contains 96.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.5 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.  The Point Pleasant Formation and Utica Shale assessment estimated there to be a total of 117.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.8 billion barrels of oil.  Located in the Appalachian Basin, together the two formations are estimated to have 214 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources.  The resources referred to in the assessment are those that are currently unproven, but their existence is based on geologic evaluations and data.  These resources are different from oil or gas reserves that can be directly produced for profit. 
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
George Bibikos, At the Well Weekly (October 4, 2019)
Charles Sartain, Is the Climate Change Debate Over? (October 8, 2019)
Charles Sartain, Not Everybody Can Sue the EPA (October 11, 2019)
Pennsylvania Legislation 
House Bill 1104: this bill mirrors the PA Resource Manufacturing tax credit to encourage large manufacturers to invest in PA (passed the House on Sept. 25, 2019, currently in the Senate and referred to Community, Economic and Recreational Development on Oct. 8, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Department of Environmental Protection
Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive ShaleLaw HotLinks:
“N.M. drilling boom squeezes local communities” - E&E Publishings
“Warren’s Fracking Proposal Has Shale Investors Weighing Risk” – Rigzone
“Colorado suit seeks suspension of drilling permits” – Associated Press 
“New Mexico governor praises oil industry for opportunities” – Associated Press
“BLM Colo. plan did not fully consider climate – lawsuit” – E&E Publishings
“Trump’s Fast-Tracking of Oil Pipelines Hits Legal Roadblocks” – Inside Climate News
“Royalty owners say they need more transparency from gas companies” – The Stream
“Senators urge ‘conditional’ state approval of proposed natural gas pipeline” – The Stream
“Norway public pension fund severs final link with Canada’s oilsands” – Climate Nexus
“New Permian Oil Pipelines Fail to Deliver Immediate Export Boost” – Shale Smart Brief
“U.S. crude oil exports continued to grow in the first half of 2019” – U.S. EIA
“Legal battle continues over drilling and fracking wastewater well” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Methane sensors put on planes, trucks in oil production zone” – Associated Press
“Shale Jobs Drying Up in Permian Basin” – Rigzone
“Trump administration promises biofuel boost to farmers, angering Big Oil” – Reuters

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