Mike Mills

Mike Mills

Mike Mills is a partner and chair of the firm’s Oil & Gas, Pipelines and Mining Industry Team.  Oil & gas, as well as mining companies, look to Mike to skillfully advise them on natural resources development issues, counsel them on federal and state hazardous waste cleanup matters, and help them successfully navigate property tax valuation disputes. When necessary to protect his clients’ interests, Mike relies on his understanding of complex regulatory matters and his clients’ businesses to defend them in environmental litigation, defeat citizen suit claims, and reduce or eliminate fines and penalties. He has been listed in Northern California Super Lawyer® since 2013 in Environmental Law and Energy & Natural Resources.

 

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Activists Threaten to Sue if EPA doesn’t Update RCRA Regs to Cover Oil & Gas Industry

On Wednesday, August 26, a coalition of environmental groups threatened to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) if the regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) are not updated to restrict the disposal of waste associated with oil and gas production. The coalition specifically asked the EPA to review and revise the … Continue Reading

U.S. EPA Proposes New Rules to Curb Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas Sector

On August 18, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released proposed regulations aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from oil and gas facilities. These first-ever proposed standards are a key part of a broader strategy, under the President’s Climate Action Plan, to cut methane emissions in the sector by 40% … Continue Reading

Struggling U.S. Rare Earth Industry is Vital to a Stable Global Economy

Rare earth elements are found in nearly every aspect of our lives. Televisions, smartphones, tablets, computers, stereos, and cars all contain rare earth elements. Our national security also relies on rare earths in precision-guided missiles, radar, night-vision goggles, lasers, satellites, fighter jets, and submarines. Virtually every aspect of modern society relies in part on rare … Continue Reading

EPA Finds No Systemic Threat to Drinking Water from Fracking

On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released a long awaited, and congressionally mandated, study detailing the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water. The EPA found no signs of “widespread, systemic” drinking water pollution from hydraulic fracturing. “It is the most complete compilation of scientific data to date,” says Dr. Thomas Burke, with the EPA’s … Continue Reading

States Show Their True Colors on Fracking – One Enacts a Ban, While Two Others Prohibit All Local Bans

Three states have recently taken a stand for or against controversial bans on hydraulic fracturing. Oklahoma, Texas, and Maryland have all passed laws within the past month relating to hydraulic fracturing bans. Oklahoma Last Friday, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 809, which prohibits local governments from choosing whether to have oil and gas … Continue Reading

New Federal Oil-By-Rail Regulations Published

Today, May 8, 2015, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration published a final rule for rail transport of crude oil in the Federal Register. These rules come after several high-profile oil train derailments, including one recently in North Dakota that caused the evacuation of a nearby town. The final rule applies to “high-hazard flammable … Continue Reading

New Rules on MLPs & Qualifying Income: What Oil Services and Exploration Companies Need to Know

On Tuesday, May 5, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) released proposed regulations defining qualifying income for Master Limited Partnerships (“MLPs”). MLPs are publicly traded partnerships that are taxed as a partnership rather than a corporation. Being taxed as a MLP has many advantages. While shareholders in a corporation face double taxation  ̶  paying taxes … Continue Reading

The Silver Lining of America’s Economy

Minerals Make Life – an initiative created by the National Mining Association – has recently developed an informative infographic on the important role silver plays in our society. Out of all metals, silver is unique in that it has the highest electrical and thermal conductively. These characteristics make silver an important ingredient in products we … Continue Reading

Department of Energy Report Calls for U.S. to Modernize Energy Infrastructure, Invest in Natural Gas Pipelines

On Tuesday, April 21 the Obama Administration released the first Quadrennial Energy Review (“QER”) as a component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.  The extensive report analyzes energy infrastructure in the United States, and “identifies the threats, risks, and opportunities for U.S. energy and climate security, enabling the federal government to translate policy goals into … Continue Reading

USEPA Releases Proposed Rule on Fracking Wastewater Treatment; Says There Will be No Costs to Industry

On Tuesday, April 7, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register for regulation of wastewater from unconventional oil and gas operations (“UOG”), which includes hydraulic fracturing.  The rule, titled “Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Oil and Gas Extraction Point Source Category,” is a Clean Water Act … Continue Reading

North Dakota Requests to Intervene in Lawsuit Challenging Federal Fracking Regulations

On Wednesday, April 1, the state of North Dakota filed a motion to intervene in Wyoming’s lawsuit challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s (“BLM”) federal hydraulic fracturing regulations.  (Wyoming v. U.S. Dept. of Interior, Case No. 15-CV-43-5 (Mar. 26, 2015).)  The BLM’s Final Rule, released on March 26, 2015, governs fracking on Federal and Indian … Continue Reading

Obama Administration Releases Federal Fracking Regulations

Today, Friday, March 20, the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”), an agency within the Department of the Interior, published regulations for hydraulic fracturing on Federal and Indian lands.  The Final Rule becomes effective in 90 days and will impact about 2,800-3,800 wells each year.  In 2013, 90% of the 2,800 new wells on Federal and … Continue Reading

Ohio Supreme Court Strikes Down Local Oil & Gas Regulations – How State Law Preemption Is Shielding the Oil and Gas Industry

In a closely watched, 4-3 decision issued yesterday, February 17, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the ‘Home Rule Amendment’ to the Ohio Constitution does not grant the city of Munroe Falls the power to enforce its own oil and gas permitting scheme simultaneously with a state-wide permitting regime. (State ex rel. Morrison v. Beck … Continue Reading

Federal Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing Spurned by Senate

On Wednesday, January 28, the Senate voted against Amendment 48 which would allow the federal Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to regulate hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) on state and private lands.  The measure was presented by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) as a negotiated amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline Act.  The amendment would have repealed sections of … Continue Reading

Federal Judge Rules that State and Federal Law Preempts New Mexico’s Fracking Ban

On January 20, 2015 a U.S. District Judge overturned New Mexico’s ban on hydrocarbon extraction, which included a prohibition on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the state.  (SWEPI, LP v. Mora County et al., Case No. 1:14-cv-00035-JB-SCY, filed Jan. 19, 2015.) Mora County, a political subdivision of the State of New Mexico, enacted the ban through a … Continue Reading

EPA Announces Plan for Rulemaking to Reduce Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Industry

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) announced a new goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.  (See White House Fact Sheet.)  The EPA’s goal is to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45% from 2012 levels by 2025.  The proposed regulations will set standards to reduce methane … Continue Reading

Railroad Companies Allege Federal Law Governing Petroleum Transport Preempts SB 861

Railroad transportation of raw petroleum, often referred to as “crude-by-rail,” has received increasing media attention in recent months, due to health and environmental concerns.  California took a stab at legislating rail transport through Senate Bill 861 (“SB 861”), which the State Legislature passed in June 2014 and the Governor subsequently signed into law.  On Tuesday, October 7, 2014, a group … Continue Reading

Senators Critique Proposed Federal Rules for Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands

On September 30, 2014, a block of twelve Democratic U.S. Senators presented a letter to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”), urging stricter fracking regulations.  The Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”), an agency within the Department of the Interior, is authoring the federal regulations for fracking on public and Indian lands.  The … Continue Reading

California Governor Signs Bill Regulating Oil by Rail

On September 25, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that will provide California’s emergency responders with more information about trains carrying crude oil and require railroad companies to provide more information about potentially hazardous cargo to the state’s Office of Emergency Services (“OES”).  In summary, Assembly Bill 380 requires: a rail carrier to prospectively … Continue Reading

Mineral Law Blog Launches New Responsive Design and Enhanced Reader Features

Dear Mineral Law Blog Readers. Sharing analysis and insight about key oil, gas, pipeline and mining law developments has been our mission since launching our Blog in late 2010. While our commitment to keep you informed hasn’t changed, technology certainly has. Back when we first started posting, it was still largely a desktop- and RSS-dominated … Continue Reading

U.S. House Hearing Supports Legislation for Development of Domestic Minerals (H.R. 761)

On Wednesday, July 23, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing, titled “American Metals and Mineral Security: An examination of the domestic critical minerals supply and demand chain.”  During the hearing, a panel of witnesses spoke on the benefits of securing a supply of minerals through … Continue Reading

USDOT Proposes New Rules for Rail Transport of Fossil Fuels

On Wednesday, July 23, 2014 the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (“Administration”), an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation (“USDOT”), issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) for rail transport of crude oil and ethanol.  The NOPR, titled “Enhanced Tank Car and Operational Controls for High-Hazard Flammable Trains,” is available online, but has … Continue Reading

EPA Delays Potential Fracking Chemical Disclosure Mandates

On Friday, July 11, 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) extended the public comment period for its advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (“ANPR”) for hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure rules.  The USEPA initially requested public comment on May 9, 2014 by issuing the ANPR.  This set a 90-day public comment period, slated to end on … Continue Reading
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