Mike Mills

Mike Mills

Mike Mills is a partner and Chair of the firm’s Oil & Gas, Pipelines and Mining Industry Team.  His practice involves a wide spectrum of natural resources matters, including mining, land use, eminent domain, federal and state hazardous waste laws and regulations, the California Environmental Quality Act, and regulatory, permitting and title issues associated with oil and gas exploration and production. He has been listed in Northern California Super Lawyer® from 2013 to the present in Environmental Law and Energy & Natural Resources.

 

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Trump’s BLM Cannot Delay Implementation of Oil and Gas Methane Rules after Effective Date

On October 4, 2017, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California held that the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) cannot postpone implementation of natural gas methane emission rules because such action would violate the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”).  Plaintiffs – the State of California, the State of New Mexico, and a … Continue Reading

Federal Bill Proposes Streamlined Pipeline Permitting, Vesting Authority in FERC

On July 19, 2017, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that grants the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) increased autonomy over pipeline approvals.  The bill, Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act (H.R. 2910), is aimed at streamlining the federal permitting process for pipeline approvals. H.R. 2901 would specify … Continue Reading

Senate Proposes Legislation to Modernize Federal Energy Policies

On June 28, 2017, the Senate introduced a bill that aims to revitalize and overhaul various federal energy and natural resources policies.  Senate Bill 1460 (S.1460), sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Arkansas) and Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), broadly proposes reform of United States policies on topics such as energy efficiency, supply and conservation.  A key highlight … Continue Reading

Some Not-So-Good News Out of Washington, D.C. for Pipeline Operators – Feds Increase Fines for Pipeline Safety Violations

President Trump’s recent executive orders have benefited the oil pipeline industry in a number of ways, including most notably, giving the final “okay” to the Dakota Access Pipeline.  But some legislative mandates have been out of the reach of the President’s pen.  On April 27, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (“PHMSA”), within … Continue Reading

In Effort to Increase Both Transparency and Safety, PHMSA Releases Civil Penalty Framework

The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (“PHMSA”) issued a General Policy Statement for civil penalties (“Penalty Framework”) on October 17, 2016.  The Penalty Framework allows a respondent in a PHMSA enforcement case to request a proposed civil penalty calculation related to its case, and provides a penalty range with corresponding factors … Continue Reading

Pipeline Operators Take Note: PHMSA Issues Interim Emergency Pipeline Safety Rules – Should You Be Concerned?

On October 3, 2016, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (“PHMSA”), within the U.S. Department of Transportation, released a new rule on its authority to issue emergency orders for pipeline safety.  The Interim Final Rule, titled “Pipeline Safety: Enhanced Emergency Order Procedures,” comes as a result of the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and … Continue Reading

ICYMI: Litigator Willa Perlmutter Establishes Mine Safety Practice at Stoel Rives

In case you missed it, Stoel Rives LLP welcomed Willa B. Perlmutter to the firm’s Natural Resources group this past July. Willa is based in our Portland office, but is serving our clients from Alaska to California and all points east—above ground and beneath. She is accustomed to working effectively and efficiently with in-house counsel and … Continue Reading

Industry Groups Push Back Against Environmental Activists in Suit Over Oil & Gas Waste Disposal Regs.

As we discussed earlier, environmental activists have asked the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to update its oil and gas drilling waste disposal rules under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”).  The groups sought to force the EPA’s hand by suing the EPA in an attempt to get a court order requiring the EPA to … Continue Reading

Wyoming Court Strikes Down BLM Hydraulic Fracturing Rule; Existing Appeal Remains Pending (For Now)

UPDATE: Quickly following on the heels of the Wyoming federal district court’s order striking down the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) hydraulic fracturing rules, the state governments of North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah have now moved to dismiss the pending Tenth Circuit appeal of the district court’s preliminary injunction order.  Those state government indicated in their … Continue Reading

EPA Issues Expansive, Costly New Source Performance Standards for Oil and Gas Sector

Widely anticipated on both sides of the aisle, on May 12, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released final regulations to curb emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds (“VOC”) from additional new, modified, and reconstructed sources in the oil and gas industry.  The Final Rule, titled,  ‘Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards … Continue Reading

Environmentalists Sue EPA to Force Update of Drilling Waste Regulations

On May 4, 2016, a coalition of environmental organizations (“Plaintiffs”) filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection (“EPA”) in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to compel the EPA to promulgate revised regulations and guidelines for the disposal, storage, transportation, and handling of oil and gas wastes.  Environmental Integrity Project et al. v. … Continue Reading

Colorado Court Strikes Down Local Fracking Bans that Conflict with State Law

On May 2, 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court issued opinions in two separate cases challenging local bans on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).  A win for the oil and gas industry in the state, the Supreme Court held that the challenged fracking bans were preempted by state law in both cases.  These decisions highlight the legal principle … Continue Reading

BLM Fights Back Against Activists’ Criticisms of CA Resource Management Plan

The Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) recently filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in a lawsuit brought by a coalition of environmental activists who have challenged the BLM’s Resource Management Plan (“RMP”) for public lands and minerals in California managed by the Bakersfield Field Office.  The activists asked a California federal judge to strike down … Continue Reading

Proposed Rules Coming Down the Pipeline for Gas Gathering and Transmission Lines

In one of the most sweeping proposals since the creation of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (“PHMSA”), the agency has announced proposed regulations to update requirements relating to gas gathering and transmission lines.  We find that there are four main areas our readers definitely should be aware of. First, the proposed regulations would … Continue Reading

Financial Assurance Requirements are on the Horizon for Hard Rock Miners

On January 29, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to finalize the long-awaited “financial assurance” regulations under section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”).  The hard rock mining industry is first in line to be subject to  the … Continue Reading

BLM Proposes “Commonsense” Rule to Limit Methane Emissions from Oil & Gas Operations

On Friday, January 22, 2016 the federal Department of the Interior’s (“DOI”) Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) issued a proposed rule on reducing waste and methane emissions in oil and gas operations.  The rule would limit oil and gas flaring, venting, and leaking on federal and Indian lands.  While the U.S. has become the largest … Continue Reading

Two Frackquake Lawsuits Filed in Oklahoma

Two lawsuits were filed within days of each other in Oklahoma, claiming that energy companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing and underground disposal of produced water are causing earthquakes throughout the state. These lawsuits probably come as no surprise to the industry after the Sierra Club recently threatened to sue four oil companies for contributing to … Continue Reading

Uranium – A little element with a lot of power

Minerals Make Life – an initiative created by the National Mining Association – has recently developed an infographic summarizing the many benefits of uranium. Uranium is found in many areas of the United States. In fact, uranium is more common than tin, about 40 times more common than silver and 500 times more common than gold. Normally … Continue Reading

Sierra Club Issues Notice of Intent to Sue over Frackquakes in Oklahoma

On Monday, November 2, the Sierra Club issued a Notice of Intent to Sue (“Notice”) four oil companies, alleging ongoing violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”).  Specifically, the Notice states that the injection and disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste fluids into the ground is a “past and present handling and disposal of … Continue Reading

Activists Make Good on Promise to Sue DOT over Pipeline Regs.

On October 8, the National Wildlife Federation (“NWF”) fulfilled its promise to sue the U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”). The lawsuit alleges that for 20 years the DOT has allowed pipelines to operate illegally by failing to issue regulations under section 311(j) of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), which requires pipeline operators to submit plans … Continue Reading

Miners and States take Notice, the EPA is Updating its CERCLA Financial Responsibility Requirements

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has recently announced that it would take steps to finalize rules establishing financial responsibility requirements for hard rock mines under section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). Section 108(b) gives the EPA the authority to require certain facilities to have some type of financial … Continue Reading

Molybdenum: An Essential Element in America’s Future

Minerals Make Life – an initiative created by the National Mining Association – has recently developed an infographic detailing the importance of the super element molybdenum. Few elements have a higher melting point than molybdenum, making it an extremely tough metal. A small amount of molybdenum in a product can make a significant contribution to its performance. … Continue Reading

Pipeline Operators Take Heed – Threatened Enviro Lawsuit May Lead to Greater Regulatory Requirements

On July 28, 2015, the National Wildlife Federation (“NWF”) filed an intent to sue notice against the Department of Transportation (“DOT”), arguing the DOT has not properly approved pipeline projects for more than 20 years. The legal action carries nationwide implications: Every U.S. oil pipeline that intersects a navigable water may soon be subject to additional … Continue Reading
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