The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently asked the 10th Circuit to pause its review of an Obama-era rule on fracking. The rule, if implemented, would restrict fracking practices on federal and tribal lands. The move comes at a time when the BLM and other agencies are reconsidering their positions in light of the new administration.
Pennsylvania's environmental regulator recently addressed a potential link between a string of small local earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing in the Utica Shale. The state's Department of Environmental Protection stated that there was "a marked temporal/spatial relationship" between the microseismic events and fracking operations. It recommended that the owner change its method of stimulation and employ a more stringent reporting schedule for similar seismic events.
A Pennsylvania appellate court recently ruled that ongoing penalties are impermissible for a single waterway leak from fracking activities under the state's Clean Streams Law. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection argued that the law permitted larger, ongoing penalties for each day that the contamination remains in state waters; however, the court found that the law authorises punishing the entry of wastes into state waters, not its movement afterwards.
Senators have introduced a new bill for energy storage that extends the investment tax credit (ITC) for both grid-scale and residential energy storage systems. The Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act garnered support from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the Senate. The new bill is modelled on the existing ITC policy for solar energy in a bid to open up competitive storage markets.
A recent earthquake has again sparked a debate regarding the alleged connection between hydraulic fracturing and seismic activity. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission issued an order to shut down wastewater disposal wells within a 500 square-mile radius of the earthquake's epicentre. On the recommendation of experts, Ohio has prohibited deep injection wells close to fault lines.
The Texas Supreme Court recently emphasised that the term 'nuisance' refers to a particular type of legal injury involving interference with the use and enjoyment of property. The court explained that a defendant may be liable for causing a condition that constitutes a nuisance based on intentional, negligent or strict liability theories. This latest clarification will be required authority for any brief or opinion on private nuisance law in Texas.
The new PIPES Act reauthorises the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration through 2019 and facilitates greater pipeline safety. The act requires a review of both natural gas and hazardous liquid integrity management programmes, and mandates the creation of a working group to consider the development of an information-sharing system related to integrity risk analyses.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued New Source Performance Standard Sub-part OOOOa, its climate change regulations for methane and volatile organic compound emissions for the oil and natural gas sector. Although the new rule applies only to newly and recently constructed, reconstructed or modified facilities, it may be a first step towards climate change regulations for older oil and gas sources.
The Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) recently published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking applicable to onshore gas transmission and gathering pipelines. The notice proposes several significant changes to the regulatory scheme for gathering lines, including bringing oversight of gathering lines that have traditionally escaped federal regulation under the PHMSA's jurisdiction.
A recent decision of the influential Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York has attracted attention from – and caused concern for – owners of pipelines and other midstream assets, as well as lenders to midstream and upstream lenders across the United States. In this case, energy company Sabine was granted court approval allowing it to reject certain gas gathering and handling agreements under Section 365 of the Bankruptcy Code.