Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Shale Law Weekly Review - July 21, 2020

Written by:
Sara Jenkins – Research Assistant 
Jackie Schweichler – Staff Attorney
Kaela Gray – Research Assistant

The following information is an update of recent local, state, national and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.

Pipelines: Court of Appeals Grants Administrative Stay Temporarily Halting Shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline
On July 14, 2020 the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an administrative stay, temporarily halting a District Court order to shutdown and empty the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 20-5197).  Previously, on July 6, 2020, the District Court for the District of Columbia ordered that the Dakota Access Pipeline be emptied and shut down within 30 days. (district court case No. 16-1534, p. 24).  Then, on July 9, 2020, the District Court denied an emergency motion to stay the court’s July 6th shutdown order, stating that it did not see a basis to grant a stay. (p. 2, July 9 order).  Subsequently, on July 13, 2020, the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) filed a Notice of Appeal for the July 9th order and other orders in the case.  Ultimately, the Court of Appeals granted an administrative stay of the July 6th shutdown order to give it more time to consider the emergency motion for stay.  The court explained that the administrative stay was not a ruling on the merits of the emergency motion for stay.  The court further ordered the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to file a response to the emergency motion to stay by July 20, 2020.  If you want to read more about the District cCurt’s July 6th shutdown order, check out our summary here.

National Energy Policy: U.S. Council on Environmental Quality Issues Final Rule Amending NEPA Requirements 
On July 9, 2020, the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued a Final Rule that updates procedural provisions in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  According to the rule summary, the updates were made to reduce paperwork and delays, while improving interagency coordination.  NEPA’s procedural requirements apply when a major federal action will significantly affect the environment. (p. 12, Final Rule).  NEPA requires federal agencies to prepare detailed statements on the environmental impacts of their proposed actions, including adverse impacts and alternatives. (p. 12).  The CEQ had not updated NEPA regulations since they were first issued in 1978. (summary).  The Trump Administration issued a fact sheet on the updates, noting that the final rule requires environmental assessments to be completed within one year and environmental impact statements to be completed within two years.  The rule will take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. 

Infrastructure: New Mexico Receives Federal Grant for Underground Oil Storage Tank Program 
On July 16, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded the New Mexico Environment Department a grant to support its underground oil storage tank program. The grant was issued in the amount of $553,000 to help clean up petroleum leaks and address additional issues caused by petroleum or hazardous substance leaks.  According to EPA’s press release, an underground storage tank system consists of a tank and pipeline made of steel.  However, the steel can corrode over time, causing leaks that could seep into soil or groundwater.  EPA Regional Administrator, Ken McQueen, issued a statement saying that the funding was necessary to support New Mexico in taking “corrective action against leaks.”

LNG Exports: FERC Approves Delfin LNG Project Extension in Louisiana
On July 15, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved an extension of time for Delfin LNG, LLC to complete its onshore liquified natural gas (LNG) export facilities in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. (p. 1).  In September 2017, Delfin was issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity for metering, compression, and piping facilities used to transport LNG to Delfin’s planned offshore export facilities. (p. 1).  In its extension request, Delfin explained that U.S. trade disputes with China and the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted LNG market conditions, making it difficult to secure certain trade agreements for the project. (p. 2).  The extension would allow Delfin more time to negotiate offtake and supply agreements as well as bring the facilities into service. (p. 2).  The extension approval gives Delfin until September 28, 2021, to complete the onshore facilities. (p. 2). 

Municipal Regulation: Colorado County Extends Moratorium on New Oil and Gas Development Applications 
On July 14, 2020, the Boulder County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) extended a moratorium on new oil and gas development applications.  According to the county’s news release, the moratorium was initially issued to give county staff time to revise regulations on oil and gas development and seismic testing in consideration of Senate Bill 19-181, passed in April 2019.  SB 19-181 gives local governments the power to regulate surface impacts of oil and gas operations and to issue regulations to minimize negative health or environmental impacts.  (p. 3).  During the public hearing, county commissioners unanimously passed a motion to extend the moratorium to December 31, 2020. T he news release further states that the majority of public comments received before the hearing supported a moratorium extension.  To read more about SB 19-181, check out our summary here.

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Charles Sartain, The Fracking Fracas, Part 2 (July 15, 2020).
David Sweeney, Niki Roberts, Anthony Hilbert, Context Matters: Measuring the Validity of Blanket Conveyances (July, 14 2020).
John McFarland, The Saga of the Dune Sagebrush Lizard Continues (July 16, 2020). 


Pennsylvania Department of Energy Press Releases:
No new releases July 9–20, 2020.

U.S. Department of Energy
Secretary Brouillette and Minister Dharmendra Pradhan to Hold Press Briefing Call On U.S.–India Strategic Energy Partnership Ministerial (July 16, 2020).

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Awards N.M. Over $553,000 To Maintain An Effective Underground Storage Tank Program (July 16, 2020). 


Pennsylvania Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices: 
No relevant actions July 13-20, 2020. 

Pennsylvania Legislature:
No relevant actions July 13-20, 2020. 


Federal Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices: 
Energy Department
85 FR 42376 “Jordan Cove Energy Project, LP” Authority to Import and Export Natural Gas, etc.- Notice (July 14, 2020). 

Environmental Protection Agency
85 FR 41920 “New Hampshire; Negative Declaration for the Oil and Gas Industry” Rule (July 13, 2020).
85 FR 43187 “Virginia; Negative Declarations Certification for the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard including the 2016 Oil and Natural Gas Control Techniques Guidelines” Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations- Proposed Rule (July 16, 2020). 
85 FR 43193 “Deletion of the Tulsa Fuel and Manufacturing Superfund Site” National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List- Proposed Rule (July 16, 2020). 

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 
85 FR 41971 “Gulf Run and Line CP Modifications Project; Enable Gas Transmission, LLC, Enable Gulf Run Transmission, LLC” Revised Schedule for Environmental Review- Notice (July 13, 2020). 
85 FR 42380 “Inquiry Regarding the Commission's Policy for Determining Return on Equity; Five-Year Review of the Oil Pipeline Index” Establishing Date for Filing Updated Data- Notice (July 14, 2020).
85 FR 42851 “Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., LLC; Southern Natural Gas Co., LLC; Evangeline Pass Expansion Project” Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.- Notice (July 15, 2020).

International Trade Administration
85 FR 41949 “Certain Oil Country Tubular Goods From the Republic of Korea” Notice (July 13, 2020).

House Energy and Commerce Committee Actions:
No relevant actions July 13-20, 2020.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Actions: 
No new actions July 2–20, 2020.

Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive ShaleLaw HotLinks:
“Methane Pollution Increased, Driven In North America By Fracking, As Advocates Accuse Gas Industry Of Greenwashing,” New York Times
“Nixon Signed This Key Environmental Law. Trump Plans To Change It To Speed Up Pipelines, Highway Projects And More,” Washington Post
“Tribal Lands Ruling: 'Total Chaos' for Oil?,” EE News
“Q&A: Terry Engelder, Penn State Scientist Whose Work Led To The Shale Gas Boom, Talks About Grand Jury Report On Fracking” State Impact
“Judge Won't Undo Dakota Access Shutdown,” EE News

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