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: Court of
Appeals Issues Stay for Mountain Valley Pipeline NWP12 Permits
On November 9, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued an order granting petitioners’ motions to stay water crossing permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project. The administrative stay will temporarily block the Nationwide Permit 12 which was reissued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on September 25, 2020. The court did not explain its reasoning for granting the stay, but it will issue an opinion on this matter at a later time. Audio for the oral argument on the motion is available here.
San Francisco Bars Use of Natural Gas in New Construction
On November 10, 2020, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to amend its building code to bar the use of natural gas in new construction. The amended ordinance will require that new construction utilize only electric power for stoves, furnaces, and water heaters. The change was prompted by the City’s decision to explore more environmentally friendly “green building standards” and to implement electric power standards in the building code.
Agency Issues Water Quality Certification for Enbridge Line 3 Replacement
On November 12, 2020, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued its approval for Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 pipeline replacement project to move forward. MPCA issued what it describes in its statement as “its most stringent 401 water quality certification to date” along with approval for a capped air emissions permit and a NPDES wastewater permit. In the 401 Water Quality Certification, MPCA found that the pipeline replacement project meets the state’s antidegradation standards and that Enbridge has verified that it will complete construction activities in a manner that maintains water quality standards. MPCA imposed several conditions relating to construction and stream crossings, taking additional measures at already impaired waters, rice waters, and during certain seasons, and requiring that Enbridge undertake compensatory mitigation for impacted wetlands and streams. Enbridge must also pay for independent, third-party environmental monitors who will be responsible for ensuring that the provisions in MPCA’s permits are followed while Enbridge completes the Line 3 replacement project.
Pipeline Barred from Transporting Gas Until Steep Slopes Stabilized
On November 11, 2020, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an order preventing the Revolution Pipeline in western Pennsylvania from being filled with natural gas before certain areas along the pipeline with steep slopes are made stable enough to prevent landslides. DEP’s order prohibits the pipeline from transporting natural gas until DEP approves Stability Analyses and Permanent Stabilization Plans to prevent landslides, erosion, and other nuisances. These requirements come as a result of a landslide which occurred along the pipeline in September 2018 that caused the pipeline to break leading to the ignition of the pipeline and destruction of nearby forested areas, a home, barn, and several vehicles. The Consent Order and Agreement resulting from the incident imposed a $30.6 million civil penalty on the pipeline for its violations.
From the National Oil
& Gas Law Experts:
George A. Bibikos, At the Well Weekly, Art. I, sec. 27 (Nov. 6, 2020)
Charles Sartain, A Unique Discovery Request in a Texas Water Rights Fight (Nov. 11, 2020)
Michael Burger, Book Launch: Combating Climate Change With Section 115 Of The Clean Air Act (Nov. 9, 2020)
Amy Turner, What Biden’s Climate Plans Might Mean For Cities (Nov. 13, 2020)
AGENCY PRESS RELEASES - STATE/FEDERAL
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Press Releases:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency News Releases:
STATE ACTIONS - EXECUTIVE/LEGISLATIVE
Pennsylvania Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 50, No. 45—Nov. 14, 2020): :
50 Pa.B. 6516, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, “Tentative Order; Implementation of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act of 2004: Standards for the Participation of Demand Side Management Resources—Technical Reference Manual 2021 Update; Doc. No. M-2019-3006867” (Nov. 14, 2020).
HB 247 “An Act amending Title 58 (Oil and Gas) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in development, further providing for well permits.” Removed from the table (Nov. 12, 2020)
Federal Executive Agencies (Federal Register Nov. 9-13, 2020):
85 FR 71334 Notice of orders, “Notice of Orders Issued Under Section 3 of the Natural Gas Act During September 2020” (Nov. 9, 2020).
85 FR 72643 Notice of Application “Southern LNG Company, L.L.C.; Application To Amend Export Term Through December 31, 2050, for Existing Non-Free Trade Agreement Authorization” (Nov. 13, 2020).
Environmental Protection Agency
85 FR 72649 Notice “Environmental Impact Statements; Notice of Availability” (Nov. 13, 2020).
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
85 FR 72647 Notice—Comment Period “Citizens S-Line Transmission LLC ; Notice of Petition for Declaratory Order” (Nov. 13, 2020).
House Energy and Commerce Committee Actions:
H.R. 8746 “To establish a Restore Employment in Natural and Environmental Work Conservation Corps in the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, and in addition to the Committees on Agriculture, Energy and Commerce, and Transportation and Infrastructure (Nov. 12, 2020).
Follow us on Twitter @AgShaleLaw—Top #ShaleLaw HotLinks Nov. 9-13, 2020:
Biden Looks To Restore, Expand Obama Administration Policies, AP
Colorado Regulators Give Initial OK To Ban On Flaring Of Oil, Gas Wells To Curb Methane Pollution, The Denver Post
Oil Prices in Violently Positive Reaction, Rigzone
New Oil And Gas Permitting Rule Shows Promising Results In Wyoming, Casper Star Tribune
No More Natural Gas In New San Francisco Buildings Starting Next Year, San Francisco Chronicle
Connect with us on Facebook. Every week we post the CASL Ledger detailing our publications and activities from the week.