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The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement recently vacated Notice to Lessees and Operators 2010-N05 following an appeal by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, which challenged the requirement that chief executives of offshore operators had to certify – under threat of administrative sanction and criminal penalty – that their companies complied with regulations and had completed certain operational reviews.
The Department of the Interior has become the latest government entity to release draft regulations governing hydraulic fracturing. The rules are in draft, meaning that they are not yet being proposed for public comment. If adopted, the regulations would govern hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian oil and gas leases only.
The National Wilderness Preservation System currently covers over 109 million acres. However, much more land in the United States is subject to substantial restraints on development under state and federal law. Many of these restraints impact on energy development, under several categories of land managed by the federal government.
In a recent decision the Interior Board of Land Appeals restated prior decisions in an extensive statement of the obligations of the Bureau of Land Management under the National Historic Preservation Act before it issues oil and gas leases on federal lands. Its holding also addressed a new issue in pre-leasing compliance.
Following a June 2008 decision of the Interior Board of Land Appeals, the Bureau of Land Management has taken a different approach to the capture of coal mine methane. A recent addendum to the West Elk Coal Mine lease authorizes the coal lessee "to capture for use or sale any or all of the coal mine methane... that it would otherwise be required to vent or discharge for safety purposes".
The Bureau of Land Management has notified bureau state directors of a new internal procedure to "allow for a full review of parcels" by bureau headquarters "prior to an oil and gas lease sale". Under the new procedure, each state office is to send a briefing paper to headquarters at least one week before the notice of lease sale is posted.