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.
Governor Revokes Easement for Enbridge Line 5 and Orders Operations to Cease
On November 13, 2020, the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, issued a Notice of Revocation and Termination of Easement to Enbridge, ordering it to cease operation of the Line 5 pipeline which runs under the Straits of Mackinac. Enbridge was given 180 days to comply with the order, with operations ceasing no later than May 12, 2021. The Notice states that the easement was revoked due to violations of the public trust doctrine and various requirements imposed by the original 1953 Easement. That same day, the Attorney General’s Office for the state of Michigan also filed a lawsuit in Ingham County Circuit Court (Enbridge Energy et al. v. Reichel et al., docket number 20-646-CE) seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The Complaint asks the court to declare that the governor’s Notice of Revocation and Termination of Easement properly revoked the 1953 Easement and that the notice properly directed the termination to take effect in 180 days. It also seeks an order directing Enbridge to stop operation of the pipeline within 180 days and to permanently decommission the pipeline.
on Mountain Valley Pipeline May Continue while Court Considers U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement
On November 18, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued an order denying a motion to stay the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biological opinion and incidental take statement. The motion asked the court to issue an order to stop construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline until the biological opinion and incidental take statement issued in September of this year was reviewed. As a result of the court’s denial, construction on the pipeline will be permitted to continue, except in an area around the Jefferson National Forest, until the court reviews the arguments advanced in the motion.
From the National Oil
& Gas Law Experts:
Charles Sartain, Another Real Estate Contract Succumbs to Indequate Property Description (Nov. 18, 2020)
John McFarland, Another Bankruptcy Court Weighs In On Rejection of Gas Contracts (Nov. 17, 2020)
AGENCY PRESS RELEASES - STATE/FEDERAL
Protection Agency News Releases:
Koppers Inc. settles with EPA for alleged oil spill prevention violations in West Virginia, Pennsylvania (Nov. 19, 2020)
EPA Reaches Settlements with Oil Production Facilities in Hays, Kansas, for Alleged Clean Water Act Violations (Nov. 18, 2020)
STATE ACTIONS - EXECUTIVE/LEGISLATIVE
Agencies—Actions and Notices (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 50, No. 47—Nov. 21, 2020):
50 Pa.B. 6716, Department of Environmental Protection, “Coal Mining Reclamation Fee Amount for 2021” (Nov. 21, 2020).
SB 790 “An Act relating to conventional wells and the development of oil, gas and coal; imposing powers and duties on the Department of Environmental Protection; providing for preliminary provisions, for general requirements, for enforcement and remedies, for related funds and for miscellaneous provisions; and making an appropriation.” Presented to the Governor, Nov. 18, 2020 (Nov. 18, 2020).
HR 1088 “A Resolution urging Pennsylvania's Independent Regulatory Review Commission to reject the proposed carbon dioxide budget trading program regulation as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.” Reported as committed (Nov. 18, 2020).
SB 619 “An Act amending the act of June 22, 1937 (P.L.1987, No.394), known as The Clean Streams Law, in general provisions and public policy, further providing for definitions; and, in other pollutions and potential pollution, providing for notice of discharge endangering health or the environment.” Laid on the table (Nov. 18, 2020).
HB 2293 “An Act amending Title 66 (Public Utilities) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in services and facilities, providing for emergency response plans.” Presented to the Governor (Nov. 20, 2020).
SB 284 “An Act amending the act of November 29, 2006 (P.L.1435, No.156), known as the Public Utility Confidential Security Information Disclosure Protection Act, further providing for definitions; providing for pipeline operation and emergency response plans; and further providing for prohibition.” Laid on the table (Nov. 19, 2020).
SB 258 “An Act amending Title 66 (Public Utilities) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in service and facilities, providing for pipeline emergency management information.” Laid on the table (Nov. 19, 2020).
Federal Executive Agencies (Federal Register Nov. 16-20, 2020):
Environmental Protection Agency
85 FR 72963 Final action “Revisions in Response to the 2016 Oil and Natural Gas Industry Control Techniques Guidelines for the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and for States in the Ozone Transport Region” (Nov. 16, 2020).
85 FR 74338 Notice “Environmental Impact Statements; Notice of Availability” (Nov. 20, 2020).
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
85 FR 73128 Notice and request for comments—Comment period “Hazardous Materials: Information Collection Activities” (Nov. 16, 2020).
85 FR 74375 Meeting notice “Notice of Teleconference Meeting of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Public Advisory Committee” (Nov. 20, 2020).
Land Management Bureau
85 FR 73292 Notice—Comment period “Call for Nominations and Comments for the Coastal Plain Alaska Oil and Gas Lease Sale” (Nov. 17, 2020).
85 FR 74378 Notice of information collection—Comment period “Agency Information Collection Activities; Oil Shale Management” (Nov. 20, 2020).
85 FR 74331 Notice of application—Comment period “Cameron LNG, LLC; Application To Amend Export Term Through December 31, 2050, for Existing Non-Free Trade Agreement Authorizations” (Nov. 20, 2020)
Ocean Energy Management Bureau
85 FR 73508 Notice of availability “Notice of availability of the Proposed Notice of Sale for Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf Region-Wide Oil and Gas Lease Sale 257” (Nov. 18, 2020).
85 FR 73746 Notice of information collection—Comment Period “Agency Information Collection Activities; Leasing of Minerals Other Than Oil, Gas, and Sulphur in the Outer Continental Shelf” (Nov. 19, 2020).
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
85 FR 73698 Notice “Transwestern Pipeline Company, LLC; Notice of Scoping Period Requesting Comments on Environmental Issues for the Proposed Linam Ranch Project” (Nov. 19, 2020).
House Energy and Commerce Committee Actions:
HR 8806 “To amend title 5, United States Code, to provide for an investment option under the Thrift Savings Plan that does not include investment in any fossil fuel companies.” Referred to the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and in addition to the Committees on Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor (Nov. 20, 2020).
HR 8759 “To approve certain advanced biofuel registrations, to require the consideration of certain advanced biofuel pathways, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (Nov. 17, 2020).
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee:
EC 5917 “A communication from the Division Chief of Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, transmitting, pursuant to law, the report of a rule entitled "Non-Energy Solid Leasable Minerals Royalty Rate Reduction Process” (Nov. 18, 2020).
Follow us on Twitter @AgShaleLaw—Top #ShaleLaw HotLinks Nov. 16-20, 2020:
New Mexico Treasurer Says Methane Proposal Has Loopholes, AP
Oil, Gas Permits for Lower 48 Federal Land Climb Ahead of Biden’s Election, Natural Gas Intelligence
Two U.S. Oil Companies Join Their European Counterparts in Making Net-Zero Pledges, Inside Climate News
Most Of Advisory Group Quits Over Permit For Line 3 Pipeline, AP
Explainer: What is Happening with the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline? Reuters
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