Jackie Schweichler – Staff Attorney
Sarah Straub – Research Assistant
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
Pipelines: Mountain Valley Pipeline Receives Permits to Move Project Forward
On September 25, 2020, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a letter to the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project reissuing Nationwide Permit 12 Verifications (NWP 12). This permits dredge and fill activities in navigational waters in Virginia and West Virginia and is a step towards the pipeline being completed. Also on this same date, a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the U.S. Forest Service was issued evaluating the effects of the pipeline’s construction on federal lands in Jefferson National Forest. The draft SEIS is available for comment until November 9. In response to the NWP 12 Verifications, Appalachia Valley Advocates wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice requesting that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision be stayed until a court can review the decision. On September 28, 2020, environmental groups initiated a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers seeking judicial review of its re-issuance of the NWP 12 Verifications to Mountain Valley Pipeline.
On September 23, 2020, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission voted to approve a rule which is intended to limit emissions in oil and gas production. The rule will impose more stringent emissions tracking requirements, including monitoring emissions more frequently and tracking emissions from the time construction of the well begins through the first six months of the well’s production. The rulemaking is a result of Colorado legislation, Senate Bill 19-181, which modified the state’s laws on oil and gas regulation to prioritize both the environment and the public’s health, safety and welfare.
On October 1, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized modifications to a 1995 rule promulgated under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act known as “Once In, Always In.” The rule, summarized in EPA’s Fact Sheet, will allow major sources of hazardous pollutants that have reduced the amount of emissions they produce to be reclassified to area source status. Previously, under the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants General Provisions, major sources, once classified as a major source, could not be reclassified. This rule amends that policy to permit major sources achieving emissions standards the flexibility to be recategorized. EPA said in its news release that the changes in the rule “will encourage facilities to pursue innovations in pollution-reduction technologies and relieve regulatory requirements intended for much larger emitters.”
Charles Sartain, My Operator is Making Money on the Well and I’m Not. What Can I Do? Part 1., (October 1, 2020)
John McFarland, Consent-to-assign Provisions in Oil and Gas Leases – Mayo Foundation v. BP America, (September 28, 2020)
John McFarland, An Update: Dinosaur Fossils as “Minerals”, (October 2, 2020)
HR 1018 “A Resolution recognizing the month of October 2020 as "Energy Awareness Month" in Pennsylvania.” INTRODUCED AS NONCONTROVERSIAL RESOLUTION UNDER RULE 35 (September 25, 2020).
HB 2002 “An Act repealing the act of May 11, 1921 (P.L.479, No.225), entitled "An act imposing a State tax on anthracite coal; providing for the assessment and collection thereof; and providing penalties for the violation of this act.” Laid on the table, (September 30, 2020).
HB 2795 “An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, in terms and courses of study, providing for science curriculum to include climate change.” Re-reported as committed from Education. (September 30, 2020).
SB 745 “ An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in inspection of vehicles, further providing for prohibition on expenditures for emission inspection program.” Laid on the table, (September 30, 2020).
HB 1106 “An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177, No.175), known as The Administrative Code of 1929, providing for environmental permits and plan approvals; making related repeals; and abrogating regulations.” Removed from table, (October 1, 2020).
Federal Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
85 FR 60779 “Midship Pipeline Company, LLC; Notice of Petition for Declaratory Order” Notice (September 28, 2020).
85 FR 61743 “ANR Pipeline Company, Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC, Columbia Gulf Transmission, LLC; Notice of Petition for Declaratory Order” Notice (September 30, 2020).
85 FR 61745 “Rover Pipeline LLC; Notice of Petition for Declaratory Order” Notice (September 30, 2020).
85 FR 61948 “Rockies Express Pipeline, LLC; Notice of Initiation of Section 5 Proceeding” Notice (October 1, 2020).
85 FR 61945 “Total Peaking Services, LLC; Notice of Request for Extension of Time” Notice (October 1, 2020).
85 FR 61946 “Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC; Notice of Request Under Blanket Authorization” Notice (October 1, 2020).
85 FR 62297 “Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC; Notice of Request Under Blanket Authorization” Notice (October 2, 2020).
85 FR 60986 “Freeport LNG Expansion, L.P.; FLNG Liquefaction, LLC; FLNG Liquefaction 2, LLC; and FLNG Liquefaction 3, LLC; Application To Amend Export Term Through December 31, 2050, for Existing Non-Free Trade Agreement Authorizations” Notice of application (September 29, 2020).
85 FR 61944 “Port Arthur LNG, LLC; Application To Amend Export Term Through December 31, 2050, for Existing Non-Free Trade Agreement Authorization” Notice of application (October 1, 2020).
85 FR 61942 “Sabine Pass Liquefaction, LLC; Application To Amend Export Term Through December 31, 2050, for Existing Non-Free Trade Agreement Authorizations” Notice of application (October 1, 2020).
85 FR 61101 “Pipeline Safety: Inside Meters and Regulators” Notice; issuance of advisory bulletin (September 29, 2020).
85 FR 61097 “Pipeline Safety: Overpressure Protection on Low-Pressure Natural Gas Distribution Systems” Notice; issuance of advisory bulletin (September 29, 2020).
85 FR 61966 “Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group; Final Phase 2 Restoration Plan #1.2 and Environmental Assessment: Barataria Basin Ridge and Marsh Creation Project, Spanish Pass Increment and Lake Borgne Marsh Creation Project Increment One; and Finding of No Significant Impact” Notice (October 1, 2020).
85 FR 62016 “Consolidated Federal Oil and Gas and Federal and Indian Coal Valuation Reform” Final Rule (October 1, 2020).
85 FR 62191 “Authorizing the Alaska to Alberta Railway Development Corporation To Construct, Connect, Operate, and Maintain Railway Facilities at the International Boundary Between the United States and Canada” Presidential document (October 2, 2020)
H.R. 8487 “To prevent energy poverty in at-risk communities, and for other purposes” “Referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, and in addition to the Committees on Agriculture, Energy and Commerce, the Budget, and Rules.” (October 1, 2020).
H.R. 362 “Energy Emergency Leadership Act” “Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources” (September 30, 2020).
H.R. 8432 “To require the establishment of an advanced energy technology research initiative and an advanced energy technology and modeling grant program, and for other purposes” “Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology” (September 29, 2020).
PM 59 “Presidential Message - A message from the President of the United States, transmitting, pursuant to law, a report relative to the issuance of an Executive Order declaring a national emergency to deal with the threat posed by our Nation's undue reliance on critical minerals, in processed or unprocessed form, from foreign adversaries; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resource” Referred to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (September 30, 2020).
“U.S. Weekly Lng Exports Edge Down” LNG World News
“Pennsylvania Lawmakers, Industry Officials Optimistic About New Natural Gas Tax Credit Legislation” The Center Square
“Mountain Valley Seeks To Resume Construction Of Pipeline” The Roanoke Times
“Colorado Poised To Take Another Major Step In Regulating Oil, Gas Industry — This Time On Well Setbacks” Loveland Reporter-Herald
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