Monday, October 7, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - October 7, 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.
GHG Emissions: Pennsylvania Joins Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
On October 3, 2019, Governor Tom Wolf signed Executive Order
Commonwealth Leadership in Addressing Climate Change through Electric Sector Emissions Reductions.  The order directs the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and create a similar carbon dioxide budget.  RGGI reduces greenhouse gas emissions with a cap-and-trade program for electric power plants.  Each of the 9 states in the initiative sets a cap on total allowable emissions, and power plants in these states must purchase credits for each ton of CO2 emitted.  Consistent with RGGI principles, DEP will propose rules to decrease emissions and promote public outreach with businesses and the community.  The purpose of RGGI is to slow climate change, and since 2005, RGGI has “reduced power sector CO2 pollution by 45 percent.”
Pipelines: Federal Grand Jury Indicts Dakota Access Pipeline Activists on Nine Charges
On September 19, 2019, a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa indicted two protestors for their actions relating to the Dakota Access Pipeline (U.S. v. Jessica Reznicek, et al., No. 4:19-CR-172).  The protestors, Jessica Rae Reznicek and Ruby Katherine Montoya, were charged with one count of conspiracy to damage the property of an energy facility, four counts of use of fire in the commission of a felony, and four counts of malicious use of fire. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office statement, if convicted, both women could face up to 70 years imprisonment and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Trial is expected to begin on December 2, 2019. 
Infrastructure: Settlement Agreement Reached for Permit Challenge to Ethane Cracker Plant in Ohio
On September 23, 2019, PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC) America, LLC reached a settlement agreement with environmental groups Sierra Club, Earthworks, and Freshwater Accountability Project over the construction of an ethane cracker plant in Belmont County, Ohio.  The three environmental groups filed an appeal before the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission on January 18, 2019, challenging the issuance of an Air Pollution Permit-to-Install for the PTTGC cracker plant.  The groups alleged that the air permit is based on a flawed air dispersion model and that pollutant discharge from the plant would violate air quality standards.  As part of the settlement, PTTGC must incorporate Optical Gas Imaging for leak detection and repair and must conduct an annual audit of this program.  PTTGC will conduct stack testing and monitor flare flow and heat content.  Lastly, a meteorological station will be installed on the PTTGC site to conduct air testing and monitoring.  Data reports will be posted and maintained on PTTGC’s publicly accessible website.  
Federal Lands: Court Denies Motion to Change Venue for Sage Grouse Lawsuit
On October 2, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho denied a motion to dismiss a case involving the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and policies affecting the sage grouse (Western Watersheds Project et al., v. Schneider et al., No. 1:2016cv00083).  The suit was brought by several environmental groups who argue that BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the National Forest Management Act.  According to one of the plaintiffs, Western Watersheds Project, BLM issued new land use plans that do not offer sufficient protection for the sage grouse.  The motion at issue was brought by the government to dismiss the case or transfer to a different venue.  The court determined that the current venue was proper and denied the motion
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
John McFarland, Produced Water Supersystems (October 2, 2019)
Courtney Roane and Conrad Hester, Making a Clean Exit: Private Equity Opportunities in the Oil and Gas Industry, Thompson & Knight LLP (October 1, 2019)
Matthew A. Kapinos et al., Insight from Gastech 2019, Akin Gump (October 1, 2019)
 National Legislation 
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
Final Rule; Enhanced Emergency Order Procedures, 84 FR 52015 (October 1, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Notice of Execution of Oil and Gas Lease for Publicly-Owned Streambeds (October 5, 2019)
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