Saturday, January 4, 2020

Shale Law Weekly Review - January 3, 2020

Written by:
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: Board Approves Pennsylvania Regulations on Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Oil and Gas Infrastructure
On December 17, 2019, the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board approved proposed regulations affecting oil and natural gas infrastructure in order to reduce volatile organic compound emissions. (25 Pa. Code Chapters 121 and 129).  The regulations, Control of VOC Emissions from Oil and Natural Gas Sources, were proposed as part of Pennsylvania’s plan to meet climate change goals.  Affected infrastructure under the proposal would include pneumatic controllers, diaphragm pumps, compressors, and storage vessels but would exclude storage infrastructure used in distribution.  Oil and gas operators would be required to adopt reasonably available control technology and would need to perform regular inspections for leak detection and repair.  Public hearings will be scheduled, and the 60-day public comment period will open in 2020. 

Pipelines: Federal Court Dismisses Delaware Riverkeeper’s Appeal of Millennium Pipeline Permit
On December 18, 2019, the United State Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s (Riverkeeper) petition to review a permit granted by New York to Millennium Pipeline Company, LLC.  (Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 17-3895-ag).  A state Pollution Discharge Elimination System general permit was granted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for Millennium’s Eastern System Upgrade Project.  Riverkeeper argued that the permit should be vacated because DEC failed to provide notice and opportunity for comment.  In this ruling, the court dismissed the petition for review as moot.  According to the court, the construction authorized under the permit was completed in August 2019 and, as such, the permit is no longer required. 

Pipelines: FERC Approves Certificate for Adelphia Gateway Project
On December 20, 2019, the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Adelphia Gateway, LLC’s (Adelphia) request for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to construct a new interstate pipeline system, known as the Adelphia Gateway Project.  Adelphia plans to replace a pipeline system built in 1970 by Interstate Energy and to construct new pipeline and necessary facilities.  The project will consist of 84.2 miles of 18-inch-diameter pipe reaching from Delaware County, Pennsylvania to Northampton County, Pennsylvania.  The project encompasses additional facilities, including several meter stations and compressor stations.  According to FERC, the approved certificate does “not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.”

LNG Infrastructure: PHMSA Grants Special Permit for LNG Rail Tank Transportation
On December 5, 2019, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) granted a special permit to allow the transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail tank car.  The special permit authorizes Transport Solutions, LLC to transport LNG in rail tank cars from Wyalusing, PA and Gibbstown, NJ.  Under the permit, Transport Solutions is required to provide emergency response training on known hazards, and the company must also “monitor each tank car for pressure, location, and leaks.”  In October 2019, PHMSA published a related proposed rule which would allow for bulk transportation of LNG in rail tank cars.  According to PHMSA, this rule would promote industry development and maintain transportation safety levels.  The comment period for the proposed rule, Hazardous Materials: Liquefied Natural Gas by Rail, closed on December 23, 2019.

Methane Emissions: Researchers Examine Power Sector Emissions Relating to U.S. Policy Timelines
On December 16, 2019, the Environmental Research Letters journal published a study on the carbon dioxide emissions reduction needed to meet climate policy targets.  According to the study, substituting natural gas for coal has contributed to reductions in carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. power sector.  The researchers note, however, that natural gas leakage minimizes potential carbon dioxide reductions and the extent of natural gas leakage affects climate policy targets.  According to the researchers, in order to meet 2030 policy goals, the United States would need a drastic shift to carbon-free sources.  Alternatively, the United States could continue natural gas reliance and focus equally on minimizing methane leakage and reducing carbon dioxide.  The study is entitled Timelines for Mitigating the Methane Impacts of Using Natural Gas for Carbon Dioxide Abatement

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Charles Sartain, Oil Field Services: What is the Status of Mineral Lien Waivers (Dec. 31, 2019)
Nick McTyre,
LNG Update: U.S. Eases Restrictions on Small-Scale LNG Export Projects (Dec. 11, 2019)
John McFarland,
More Focus on Environmental Consequences of Methane Emissions (Dec. 16, 2019)

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