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.
Legislature Advances Bill Imposing Criminal Penalties for Tampering with
On December 17, 2020, the Ohio House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 33 which contains measures modifying the criminal penalties that may be imposed on people who damage critical infrastructure. The infrastructure to which this measure applies includes pipelines, petroleum refiners, gas processing plants, and freight facilities. The bill provides property owners with the ability to bring a civil action and be awarded damages and attorney fees against individuals who damage infrastructure. The bill also imposes criminal penalties for destroying or tampering with infrastructure by legislating that such activity is a felony the third degree. Several days later, on December 22, 2020, the Ohio Senate concurred in amendments proposed by the House.
Public Lands: BLM
Releases Record of Decision Permitting Drilling All Year Long in Converse
On December 23, 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a Record of Decision which will allow several oil and gas companies to drill throughout the year in Converse County, Wyoming. BLM’s decision would allow drilling on 1.5 million acres year-round, eliminating the previous restriction on drilling between February 1 through July 31imposed by the 2007 Casper Field Office Resource Management Plan. In its press release, BLM noted that the Record of Decision does not permit immediate drilling activities to begin. Oil companies must still apply and be approved for the appropriate permits and reviews in order to begin drilling activity. Documents relating to the Record of Decision, including the Environmental Impact Statement, can be viewed here.
Pipelines: Petition for
Review Filed Challenging FERC Orders on Mountain Valley Pipeline Project
On December 22, 2020, several environmental groups filed a Petition for Review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asking the court to review four orders issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) concerning construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. In the petition, the environmental groups ask the court to review FERC’s orders granting an extension of time to complete the project, partially lifting a stop work order and allowing construction of the pipeline to continue, and orders denying a request for rehearing and addressing arguments raised in the rehearing.
Public Lands: Judge
Expedites Hearing on Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction for
Oil Development in National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska
On December 22, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska issued an order to expedite a hearing on the Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic's request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. In its complaint, the Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic alleged that the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decisions regarding the Willow Master Development Plan in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and stated that the biological opinion issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service was arbitrary and unlawful. The court directed the Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic to file its motion by December 23, 2020 and the Bureau of Land Management and Conocophillips Alaska, Inc. to file its responses to the motion by January 15, 2021. The court anticipates ruling on the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction by February 1, 2021.
Resources of Interest:
Charles Sartain, Contaminated Butane and Propane Creates Fight Over General Terms and Conditions (Dec. 22, 2020)
John McFarland, After Five Years of Litigation, Texas Supreme Court Concludes that Lease’s Continuous Development Clause is Ambiguous (Dec. 21, 2020)
Melinda Janki, Guyana: A First Step Towards Climate Litigation (Dec. 29, 2020).
AGENCY PRESS RELEASES - STATE/FEDERAL
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection:
United States Department of Energy:
United States Environmental Protection Agency:
EPA Finalizes Ozone NAAQS, Retaining Current Standards (Dec. 23, 2020)
STATE ACTIONS - EXECUTIVE/LEGISLATIVE
Pennsylvania Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 50, No. 51—Dec. 26, 2020 & Pa. Bulletin Vol. 50, No. 51—Jan. 2, 2020):
50 Pa.B. 7393 Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission “Natural Gas Service” (Dec. 26, 2020).
51 Pa.B. 80 Department of Environmental Protection “Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board Virtual Meeting Schedules for 2021” (Jan. 2, 2021).
Federal Executive Agencies (Federal Register Dec. 21, 2020 – Jan. 1, 2021):
Environmental Protection Agency
85 FR 83553 Notice “EPA's Approval of Florida's Clean Water Act Section 404 Assumption Request” (Dec. 22, 2020).
Bureau of Safety and ENvironmental Enforcement
85 FR 84230 Final direct rule—Comments Period “Oil and Gas and Sulfur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf-Reaffirmation of Standard Editions Related to the Manual of Petroleum Measurement Standards” (Dec. 28, 2020).
85 FR 83935 Notice of application “Gulf LNG Liquefaction Company, LLC; Application to Amend Export Term Through December 31, 2050, for Existing Non-Free Trade Agreement Authorization” (Dec. 23, 2020).
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
85 FR 83071 Notice—Comments Period “New England Power Generators Association, Inc. v. ISO New England, Inc.; Notice of Complaint” (Dec. 21, 2020).
85 FR 83073 Notice—Comments Period “Northern Natural Gas Company; Notice of Availability of the Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Northern Lights 2021 Expansion Project” (Dec. 21, 2020).
85 FR 83072 Notice—Comments Period “National Grid LNG LLC; Notice of Request for Extension of Time” (Dec. 21, 2020).
85 FR 83548 Notice—Comments Period “Stingray Pipeline Company, L.L.C.; Notice of Amendment to Application” (Dec. 22, 2020).
85 FR 83541 Notice—Comments Period “Adelphia Gateway, LLC; Notice of Request Under Blanket Authorization and Establishing Intervention and Protest Deadline” (Dec. 22, 2020).
85 FR 83552 Notice—Comments Period “Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC; Notice of Request Under Blanket Authorization” (Dec. 22, 2020).
85 FR 83940 Notice—Comments Period “Actions Regarding the Commission's Policy on Price Index Formation and Transparency, and Indices Referenced in Natural Gas and Electric Tariffs” (Dec. 23, 2020).
85 FR 84329 Notice—Comments Period “National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation; Notice of Request for Extension of Time” (Dec. 28, 2020).
85 FR 85628 Notice “Rio Bravo Pipeline Company, LLC; Notice of Availability of the Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Rio Bravo Pipeline Project Amendment” (Dec. 29, 2020).
85 FR 86552 Notice—Comments Period “Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC; Notice of Application and Establishing Intervention Deadline” (Dec. 30, 2020).
Land Management Bureau
85 FR 83102 Notice of information collection—Comments Period “Agency Information Collection Activities; Oil and Gas, or Geothermal Resources: Transfers and Assignments” (Dec. 21, 2020).
Rural Utilities Service
85 FR 83883 Notice of Availability of a Record of Decision “Financial Support for Transmission and Distribution Lines To Pump Stations 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 in Connection With the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline” (Dec. 23, 2020).
85 FR 83142 Notice—Comments Period “Deepwater Port License Application: Texas GulfLink LLC; Extension of Draft Environmental Impact Statement Comment Period” (Dec. 21, 2020).
85 FR 83448 Temporary final rule “Safety Zone; Pipeline Testing; Tampa Bay, Gibsonton, FL” (Dec. 22, 2020).
House Energy and Commerce Committee Actions:
H.R. 9056 “To amend the Department of Energy Organization Act to secure the supply of critical energy resources, including critical minerals and other materials, and for other purposes.” Referred to House Committee on Energy and Commerce (Dec. 28, 2020).
H.R. 9054 “To advance clean power technology development and use through innovation and clean energy standards, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce (Dec. 28, 2020).
Follow us on Twitter @AgShaleLaw—Top #ShaleLaw HotLinks Dec. 21, 2020-Jan. 1,
“State Pipeline Regulators Reach Deal With Energy Transfer For Pipeline Blast” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Onshore US Operators to Report Flaring Data” Rigzone
“New Mexico Land Boss Ends Fresh Water Sales For Oil And Gas” AP
“Where 5 Key Climate Cases Stand Ahead Of Supreme Court Brawl” ClimateWire
“LNG Surges to Six-Year High With Cold Snap In Importing Nations” BNN Bloomberg
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