Monday, November 25, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - November 25, 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.
Municipal Regulation: Town of Brookline, Massachusetts Prohibits New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure for Building Construction
On November 21, 2019, the Town of Brookline, Massachusetts, adopted Article 21 amending the Town General By-Laws and prohibiting the use of fossil fuel infrastructure meant for major renovation or new building projects.  It is specified in Article 21 that such prohibition applies only to renovation in which more than 50% of the surface of the building undergoes renovation. Article 21 provides for some exceptions, including fuel for backup generators and portable propane.  According to the explanation published on the town’s website, this ban aims to protect citizens from potential fuel leaks that could result in an explosion and air pollution.  In addition, the change is meant to reduce carbon emissions in order to meet the goals set forth in its Climate Action Plan. 

Infrastructure: Wisconsin Governor Signs Bill Establishing Trespass of Energy Critical Infrastructure as a Criminal Offense
On November 20, 2019, Governor Tony Evers of Wisconsin signed into law Assembly Bill 426, now known as Act 33, creating a new criminal offense for trespassing onto the property of an energy provider.  Act 33 defines “energy provider property” as “property that is part of an electric, natural gas, oil, petroleum, refined petroleum product, renewable fuel, water, or chemical generation, transmission, or distribution system and that is owned, leased, or operated by an energy provider.”  Anyone who unlawfully enters an energy provider property can be convicted of a Class H felony, and the offender may face imprisonment of up to six years and/or a fine of up to $10,000. 

LNG Exports: FERC Issues Final Environmental Impact Statement for Jordan Cove LNG Project
On November 15, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed Jordan Cove LNG project located across the North Spit of Coos Bay in Oregon.  The project entails the construction of five liquefaction trains, each with a capacity to export up to 1.5 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of liquefied natural gas and will operate through a federally owned 7-mile channel.  FERC concluded that this project would create adverse consequences to the environment, but that they could be avoided or minimized if properly addressed. 

GHG Emissions: UN Environment Program Publishes Report Assessing Global Community Strategy to Limit Fossil Fuel Production
The United Nations Environment Program, together with five other European and International partners, recently published the Production Gap Report as part of their overall evaluation of the international community’s effort to tackle climate change.  The report found that different strategies implemented by governments to reduce fossil fuel use is not in line with fossil fuel production targets set in the Paris Climate Agreement.  In order to meet those goals, the report encourages governments to adopt “supply-side” policies instead of “demand-side” measures as their best option to restrict growth in fossil fuel production. 

Induced Seismicity: New Study Establishes a Link Between Hydraulic Fracturing and Seismic Activity in the Eagle Ford Shale Play
On November 13, 2019, Geophysical Research Letters published a new study suggesting that there is a direct correlation between hydraulic fracturing operations in the Eagle Ford Shale Play and an increase of seismic activity in that region from 2014 to 2018.  According to the study, during that time frame, approximately 90 earthquakes with a magnitude of 2.0, or greater, were the result of hydraulic fracturing activities.  The researchers suggest that the probability of induced seismicity from hydraulic fracturing is most closely related to factors including “proximity to faults, orientation of faults in the stress field, effective injection rate, injected volume and number of laterals on a well pad.”  The study is entitled “Hydraulic Fracture Injection Strategy Influences the Probability of Earthquakes in the Eagle Ford Shale Play of South Texas.”
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
John McFarland, Two Fun Resources (Nov. 14, 2019)
National Legislation
Environmental Protection Agency
Pennsylvania Legislation
House Bill 476: this bill would require DEP to forward notices of noncompliance issued by EPA for violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) or Solid Waste Management Act (SWMA) to the municipality where the violation occurred (First consideration; Nov. 19, 2019)
Senate Bill 950: this bill would authorize DEP to conduct a public comment process on and submit to the General Assembly a measure or action intended to abate, control or limit carbon dioxide emissions by imposing a revenue-generating tax or fee on carbon dioxide emissions.
Senate Bill 694: this bill would allow well bores to cross multiple units (Signed by Governor; Nov. 7, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices
Department of Environmental Protection
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