Category: Oil & Gas

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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

Presidential Memo Imparts “Moral Obligation” on Agencies to Mitigate Impacts of Natural Resource Development

On Tuesday, November 3, the White House released a Presidential Memorandum: “Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment” (“Memorandum”).  The Memorandum was sent to the Secretaries of Defense, Interior and Agriculture and the administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and purports to establish … 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

BREAKING: Wyoming Federal Court Halts Implementation Of Public Lands Hydraulic Fracturing Rule

Late yesterday, Judge Scott Skavdahl of the federal district court in Wyoming issued a much-anticipated order granting a series of preliminary injunction motions filed in litigation challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on public lands.  (Our full coverage of the litigation is available here.)  In a detailed 54-page opinion … Continue Reading

With Latest Filings, Decision On Preliminary Injunction Motions In Litigation Against BLM Fracking Rule Expected Soon

In June, a Wyoming federal district court temporarily delayed implementation of the Bureau of Land Management’s (“BLM”) new final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal public lands, while it granted the BLM an extension to lodge its administrative record and permitted the parties more time to file citations to that record in support of their … 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

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

BLM Responds To Ute Indian Tribe’s Injunction Motion In Fracking Rule Litigation

Following a court hearing and order temporarily delaying the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal public lands, the BLM submitted its response brief opposing the Ute Indian Tribe’s preliminary injunction motion on July 1.  Among the BLM’s arguments, it asserted four primary points: First, the BLM contends that the Indian … Continue Reading

BREAKING: Wyoming Federal Court Delays Implementation Of BLM’s Final Fracking Rule

On the heels of yesterday’s day-long hearing on several preliminary injunction motions in litigation challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s (“BLM”) new final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal public lands, the Wyoming district court has temporarily ordered a delay of the rule’s implementation for at least several weeks. (See our prior coverage of the preliminary injunction briefing … Continue Reading

More Injunction Arguments In BLM Fracking Rule Litigation Prior To Major Court Hearing Tomorrow

Several more key filings have come into the federal litigation challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on public lands in advance of the June 23 consolidated preliminary injunction hearing. These briefs are summarized below: BLM’s Opposition To The Preliminary Injunction Motions Filed By The States Of Wyoming And Colorado … Continue Reading

Preliminary Injunction Arguments Pour Into Litigation Against BLM’s Final Fracking Rule

Since our last update on federal litigation in Wyoming challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule to regulate hydraulic fracturing on public lands, the flurry of activity continues in advance of the June 23 preliminary injunction hearing. We’ve summarized several key filings below: BLM’s Opposition To Preliminary Injunction On June 1, the BLM … Continue Reading
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