Monday, May 4, 2020

Shale Law Weekly Review - May 4, 2020

Written by:
Sara Jenkins – Research Assistant 
Jackie Schweichler – Staff Attorney
Brennan Weintraub – Research Assistant
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
Pipelines: Federal District Court Denies Stay Regarding Keystone XL Pipeline Permit Decision
On April 28, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana denied a request to stay an April 15, 2020, order issued by the court to vacate a Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP) for the Keystone XL pipeline. (Northern Plains Resource Council v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. CV-19-44-GF-BMM).  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers filed the request for partial stay pending appeal of the case and requested an expedited briefing on the issue. (order p. 1).  The Corps specifically requested that paragraphs five and six of the April 15th order be stayed. (order p. 1).  Paragraph five vacated the NWP 12 pending consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and compliance with all environmental laws. (April 15 order, p. 26).  Paragraph six stops the Corps from allowing any dredge or fill activities under NWP 12, also pending consultation and compliance with environmental laws.  The court denied the request for a stay of paragraphs five and six, but granted an expedited schedule to brief the issue.  All of the parties briefing documents are scheduled to be filed with the court by May 8, 2020.  Read more about the court’s April 15th order here

Wastewater Disposal: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Approves Underground Wastewater Injection Well 
On April 15, 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a permit for an underground injection control well for disposal of wastewater used in oil and gas production.  Penneco Environmental Solutions, LLC applied for the permit to convert its existing well, Sedat 3A, into a disposal well.  In a news release announcing approval of the well, DEP explained that the well was approved following a public hearing where related comments and testimony were received.  The permit includes several conditions that must be met before disposal activities can begin at the well site.  The permit requires Penneco to create a seismic monitoring and mitigation plan that includes seventeen specific components listed in the permit. (permit, p. 1-3).  Other predisposal conditions require that Penneco obtain a permit to convert their Sedat #1 well into a monitoring well to track the injected fluid levels. (permit p. 3). 

Methane Emissions: Environmental Defense Funds Releases Study on Methane Emissions in the Permian Basin 
On April 29, 2020, the Environmental Defense Fund released data in its Permian Methane Analysis Project (PermianMAP), concluding that flaring activities were one of the largest sources of methane emissions in the Permian Basin. (aerial survey results).  PermianMAP gathered data from helicopter surveys of the Delaware and Midland basins in Texas.  Using data collected with infrared cameras through February and March 2020, the surveys found that 11% of flares were either malfunctioning or unlit within the study area. (helicopter survey map).  Further, the study found that unlit flares were venting “completely uncombusted methane” into the atmosphere. (aerial survey results).  The study ultimately concluded that companies in the region are “emitting 3.5 times more methane than what the Environmental Protection Agency assumes.” (aerial survey results).  In a more detailed publication of the project’s methodology, PermianMAP explained that the project’s data collection and analysis was implemented through a combination of aerial, ground, and flaring surveys.  Penn State researchers were involved in calculating total methane emissions for the region (methodology p. 5).
From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:

Pennsylvania Department of Energy Press Releases:
No new releases Apr. 27–May 4, 2020.

U.S. Department of Energy
No new releases Apr. 27-May 4, 2020.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Pennsylvania Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices: 
No actions May 4, 2020. 

Pennsylvania Legislature:
HB 247 “Reducing Surface Impact from Unconventional Gas Wells” Removed from Table (Apr. 20, 2020)
HB 827 “Economic Justice for DRBC Takings” Removed from Table (Apr. 21, 2020)
SB 790 “Conventional Oil and Gas Wells Act” Removed from Table (Apr. 20, 2020)

Federal Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices: 
Energy Department
85 FR 25340 “National Environmental Policy Act Implementing Procedures” Proposed Rule (May 1, 2020)

Environmental Protection Agency
85 FR 23825 “Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NSPS for VOC Emissions From Petroleum Refinery Wastewater Systems (Renewal)” Notice (April 29, 2020)

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 
85 FR 23512 “Carbon Pricing in FERC-Jurisdictional Organized Regional Wholesale Electric Energy Markets; Notice of Request for Technical Conference or Workshop” Notice (April 28, 2020)
85 FR 23513 “Questar Southern Trails Pipeline Company; Notice of Extension of Time Request” Notice (April 28, 2020)
85 FR 23517 “Golden Pass LNG Terminal LLC and Golden Pass Pipeline LLC; Notice of Application to Amend Section 3 and Section 7 Authorizations” Notice (April 28, 2020)
85 FR 23953 “Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC; Notice of Availability of the Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement Project Amendment” Notice (April 30, 2020)
85 FR 26450 “Gulf South Pipeline Company, LLC; Notice of Request Under Blanket Authorization” Notice (May 4, 2020)
85 FR 26453 “Enable Gas Transmission, LLC, Enable Gulf Run Transmission, LLC; Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review of the Gulf Run and Line CP Modifications Project” Notice (May 4, 2020)

House Energy and Commerce Committee Actions:
No new actions Apr. 27-May 4, 2020.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Actions: 
No new actions Apr. 27-May 4, 2020.
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