Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Shale Law Weekly Review - September 1, 2020

Written by: 
Sarah Straub – Research Assistant 
Jackie Schweichler – Staff Attorney

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

Wildlife Habitat: Federal Judge Modifies Order Vacating Leases Pending Appeal
On August 25, 2020, the U.S. District Court in Montana entered an order staying vacatur of hundreds of oil and gas leases in sage grouse territory in favor of suspending operations and production under the leases pending appeal to the Ninth Circuit.  The lawsuit, Montana Wildlife Federation v. Zinke, et al, challenges the federal government’s oil and gas leasing practices on public lands which are alleged to be destructive to the natural habitat of the sage grouse (4:18-cv-00069).  The stay of operations and production ordered by Chief District Judge Brian Morris will maintain the status quo, protecting the parties’ interests and preventing any harm which may occur, until the Ninth Circuit resolves the issues on appeal. 

National Energy Policy: North Carolina Brings Lawsuit Challenging Federal Decision to Allow Seismic Testing for Oil and Gas
On August 26, 2020, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein brought a lawsuit in federal court challenging the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) decision to overrule the state’s objections to the allowance of seismic testing to be conducted on North Carolina’s coast. (North Carolina v. Wilbur Ross, et al., No. 2:20-CV-00059).  In its complaint, North Carolina alleged that the exploration for oil and gas through seismic testing is not compatible with the state’s coastal management plan created under the Coastal Zone Management Act, that it was improper under the Administrative Procedure Act to overrule the state’s objection to the exploration, and that the exploration poses significant threats to the aquatic life found off the shores of North Carolina.  Attorney General Stein has asked the Eastern District of North Carolina to have the NOAA decision overruling North Carolina’s objections set aside, preventing the proposed exploration process from proceeding. 

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts: 
Brigit Rollins, Jumping the Gun? Government Says NEPA Challenges Are Premature (August 27, 2020)
Charles Saratain & Rusty Tucker, Company Man Wins MSA Dispute (August 26, 2020)
Scott Daniel Johnson, FERC Clarifies New Requirements for Certain Filings (August 26, 2020)


Pennsylvania Department of Energy Press Releases:
DEP Provides $5.1 Million in Volkswagen Settlement Funding to Cleaner Fuel Transportation Projects for Healthier Air Quality (August 27, 2020)

U.S. Department of Energy
Department of Energy Announces $33 Million in Funding for Carbon Neutral Hybrid Electric Aviation (August 26, 2020)
U.S. Department of Energy Issues Small Business Research and Development Funding Opportunity Announcement (August 24, 2020)


Senate Environmental Resources and Energy
Public Hearing to discuss a proposed rulemaking: Water Quality Standards for Manganese and Implementation (#7-553) on September 9, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. The hearing will be livestreamed from the Senate Chamber. 


Federal Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices: 
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement
85 FR 5217 “Agency Information Collection Activities; Oil-Spill Response Requirements for Facilities Located Seaward of the Coastline” Notice of information collection; request for comment (August 24, 2020) Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before October 23, 2020.
85 FR 52146 “Agency Information Collection Activities; Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf for Minerals Other than Oil, Gas, and Sulphur” Notice of information collection; request for comment (August 24, 2020) Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before October 23, 2020.
85 FR 52148 “Agency Information Collection Activities; Relief or Reduction in Royalty Rates” Notice of information collection; request for comment (August 24, 2020) Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before October 23, 2020.
85 FR 52144 “Agency Information Collection Activities; Well Control and Production Safety Training” Notice of Information Collection; request for comment (August 24, 2020) Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before October 23, 2020. 
Energy Department
85 FR 52237 “Extending Natural Gas Export Authorizations to Non-Free Trade Agreement Countries Through the Year 2050” Notice of final policy statement and response to comments (August 25, 2020).
85 FR 52109 “Notice of Request for Information (RFI) on FY 2021 Bioenergy Technologies Office Multi-Topics” Request for information (August 24, 2020) Responses to the RFI must be received by September 21, 2020.
Environmental Protection Agency
85 FR 53179 “New Mexico: Final Approval of State Underground Storage Tank Program Revisions and Incorporation by Reference” Direct final rule (August 28, 2020). 
85 FR 53363 “Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan Regulation, Subpart J (Renewal)” Notice (August 28, 2020). 
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
85 FR 53355 “Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, LLC, Southern Natural Gas Company, LLC; Notice of Availability of the Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Evangeline Pass Expansion Project” Notice (August 28, 2020)

Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive ShaleLaw HotLinks:
Gas and Nuclear Industries Fight to The End For 'Green' EU Investment Label” Reuters
Thousands Allowed to Bypass Environmental Rules in Pandemic” AP
Where U.S. Fossil Fuel Companies are Shedding Jobs” Axios
An Oil Giant’s Wall Street Fall: The World is Sending the Industry Signals, but is Exxon Listening?” Inside Climate News 
Mountain Valley Asks FERC For More Time To Complete Pipeline” The Roanoke Times 
US Rig Count Increases For First Time In Months” Shale Gas Reporter

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