Monday, December 2, 2019

Shale Law Weekly Review - December 2, 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.
Public Lands: BLM Publishes Draft Environmental Impact Statement for National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska
On November 25, 2019, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published notice of availability of a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A) in Alaska. The NPR-A is located on Alaska’s North Slope region and includes 23 million acres.  The draft EIS includes four management options with analysis on oil and gas exploration, development, and transportation.  One option would include maintaining the current oil and gas leasing acreage of 11.8 million acres.  Another option would decrease the amount of land leasing availability to 11.4 million acres. The other two options would increase the leasing acreage to 17.1 or 18.3 million.  The public comment period will close January 21, 2020. 

Municipal Regulation:  California Restaurants File Lawsuit Against Berkeley for Natural Gas Infrastructure Ban
On November 21, 2019, the California Restaurant Association (CRA) filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the City of Berkeley to oppose the city’s recently passed natural gas infrastructure ban (California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkeley, 3:19-cv-07668-SK).  The new law, Prohibition of Natural Gas Infrastructure in New Buildings, was passed in July 2019 and will go into effect on January 1, 2020.  The law prohibits the installation of natural gas infrastructure in new building construction, with limited exceptions.   According to the city, substituting electric for gas appliances will address the problem of climate change and improve air quality in homes.  CRA argues, however, that the law negatively affects restaurants and chefs who need flames in order to create a variety of culinary dishes.  CRA states that restaurant owners may be dissuaded from moving, upgrading their buildings, or opening new restaurants. 

Methane Emissions: States and Senators Submit Comments on Proposed Emission Standards Rule
On November 22, 2019, several states submitted comments on the proposed rule, Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources Review.  The stated purpose of the proposed rule is to amend new source performance standards (NSPS) to remove “regulatory duplication” while maintaining current emission sources protections.  According to the states’ comments, the proposed rule is arbitrary and capricious in failing to consider the impact of the rule on existing oil and natural gas industry sources.  In addition, the states assert that the proposed rule violates the Clean Air Act and would increase methane emissions.  Similarly, on November 25, 2019, Senators Whitehouse, Duckworth, Van Hollen, and Merkley submitted comments on the proposed rule.  The senators also argue that the rule is arbitrary and capricious and would serve to create higher methane emissions. 

Production and Operation: Cleveland State University Provides an Analysis on Investment in the Ohio Oil and Gas Sector for Q3 and Q4 of 2018
On November 12, 2019, the Energy Policy Center at Cleveland State University published a report about Utica shale-related investment in Ohio for the period from July 1 to December 31, 2018. The report provides essential data and separate analysis on investment made for the three major oil and gas sectors: upstream, midstream and downstream. According to the report, there has been a 25% decrease in upstream investment with fewer wells drilled compared to the first quarter of the year 2018; however, data shows that production is still increasing. Despite very little investment made in the midstream and downstream sectors, the report indicated some increased activity and new pipeline or power generation plant projects that will be included in future 2019 reports. Overall, total investment from the third to fourth quarter of 2018 represents $3.8 billion. 
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Georges A. Bibikos, At the Well Weekly (Nov. 22, 2019)
U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions rose in 2018 for the first year since 2014 (Nov. 26, 2019)
U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. average gasoline prices this week are similar to the previous two Thanksgivings (Nov. 27, 2019)
National Regulatory Actions:
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Environmental Protection Agency
Pennsylvania Legislation:
Senate Bill 967: this bill would mandate all major facilities to establish and maintain a municipal notification plan in order to alert the public in case of an air pollution incident (Referred to Environmental Resources and Energy; Nov. 25, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Environmental Protection
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