Category: Oil & Gas

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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

Reconsidering Helium Production on Federal Lands Amid Privatization of Federal Helium Reserve

On Wednesday the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will auction helium stored in its Cliffside Field underground storage facility in west Texas (aka the Federal Helium Reserve).  This annual auction under the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 is part of a privatization effort that began back in 1996 and will culminate with the BLM divesting itself … 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

North Dakota’s UIC Class VI Primacy Wait is Almost Over

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is poised to approve North Dakota’s application for primary enforcement authority over the underground injection of CO2 for geologic sequestration in that state.  Nearly four years after North Dakota became the first state to seek primacy from EPA over carbon sequestration wells – known as Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class … 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

Idaho Modifies Oil and Gas Statutes (Again)

Both houses of the Idaho Legislature unanimously approved House Bill 301a last week following a seven-hour negotiation and two days of hearings earlier this month.  Supported by Governor Otter, this bill will (among other things) amend the forced pooling provisions enacted just 12 months ago.  In fact, House Bill 301a is the latest in a … Continue Reading

Oil Transportation and Suction Dredge Mining Legislative Topics in Washington Too

Following up on last week’s post about Oregon legislative proposals, here are some of the mineral-related bills currently pending in the Washington State Legislature: Oil and Gas SB 5462 and HB 1611 – These two almost identical bills are follow-ups to the Oil Transportation Safety Act that was enacted in Washington two years ago. Among other … Continue Reading

Mineral-Related Bills Pending Before Oregon Legislature

The Oregon Legislature’s 2017 session officially kicked off last week. A variety of mineral-related bills have been introduced.  Here are some of the ones to follow: Mining SB 3 – SB 3 is primarily focused on suction dredge mining.  It would build on the 2013 enactment of a moratorium, currently in effect until 2021, on … Continue Reading

Draft Resource Management Plan Amendment Released for Central California Federal Lands

On January 6, 2017, the federal Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) issued a notice of Draft Resource Management Plan Amendment (“DRMP Amendment”) and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (“DEIS”) for oil and gas leasing and development on federal lands administered by the BLM, Central Coast Field Office (“Planning Area”).  82 Fed. Reg. 1754 (Jan. 6, 2017).  … 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

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

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

Utah Congressmen Unveil Landmark Public Land Bill

On January 20, Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz unveiled a “discussion draft” of the Utah Public Lands Initiative Act. The proposed bill undertakes the difficult task of balancing economic development and conservation on public land in the State of Utah. Congressmen Bishop and Chaffetz began working together on the bill in February 2013. Since … 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

Congress Repeals Crude Oil Export Ban, a Legacy of 1970s Oil Embargo

Before leaving Washington, D.C. for the holidays, President Obama signed H.R. 2029 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016), which repealed the ban on U.S. exports of crude oil.  The repeal occurred just few days before today’s 40th anniversary of President Ford signing the ban into law.  According to historical data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, when … Continue Reading

Court Denies Move For Final Judgment On Order Delaying BLM Hydraulic Fracturing Rule; Environmental Groups Proceed Anyway

Following a Wyoming federal court’s order temporarily halting the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on public lands, Sierra Club and several other environmental groups requested the court enter final judgment and delay proceedings while they pursue an appeal through the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.  (Our complete coverage of this case … Continue Reading

New Law Streamlines Federal Permitting and Environmental Review Processes

Major infrastructure developers received a notable holiday gift from Capitol Hill and the White House earlier this month with the December 4, 2015 enactment of the Highway Authorization Act. Title XLI of the Act promises to streamline both the authorization (license, permit, approval, etc.) and environmental review processes for covered projects. Who Benefits? To benefit … Continue Reading
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