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Fracking Insider

Presidential Monument Power May Allow Obama to Unilaterally Restrict Access to Public Lands

Posted in Regulatory

The final mid-term election of a presidency typically represents the last election of consequence for the President, and the point where Presidents demonstrate an increased willingness to take actions that are politically unpopular or controversial.

While Presidential pardons are perhaps the most notable of these politically unpopular lame-duck actions, the President’s monument designation authority is certainly the most closely watched among land-use industries like the oil & gas industry because it can be used to restrict large areas of public land from all future development. Continue Reading

Virginia Announces New Joint Fracking Review Process

Posted in Regulatory

Virginia recently announced a special joint review process between the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (“DMME”) and Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) of applications to use hydraulic fracturing in the commonwealth’s Coastal Plain.  The Coastal Plain provides about half of the freshwater used by Virginia residents, and one company has already proposed drilling in the Northern Neck area.

The joint review process, as outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding, will begin with an analysis of the potential cumulative environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing.  The DMME will conduct an environmental impact assessment following any drilling permit application as it has usually done; the DEQ will review the assessment and will also have the authority to conduct its own assessment on a case-by-case basis. The DMME and DEQ will work to reach an agreement on each permit; if they are unable to do so, the Secretaries for Natural Resources and for Commerce and Trade will make the final decision.

With assistance from Catherine Wilmarth

Department of Energy No Longer Issuing Conditional Approvals of LNG Export Licenses

Posted in Regulatory

The Department of Energy (“DOE”) has announced that it will no longer be issuing conditional approvals of export licenses for liquefied natural gas (“LNG”).  DOE will instead wait until the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) has approved environmental reviews for the projects, including rehearing requests, allowing DOE to focus its efforts on the applications of projects that are more likely to reach completion. Continue Reading

Study Finds Artificial Earthquakes Weaker

Posted in Regulatory

A recently released study has found that artificial earthquakes resulting from the use of disposal wells for produced waters and other oil and gas wastewaters are less intense, and in general about sixteen times weaker, than naturally occurring earthquakes. The peer-reviewed paper included analysis of eleven earthquakes occurring between 2011 and 2013 in Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas that are suspected of being caused by the use of injection wells. Continue Reading

Hydraulic Fracturing: State Regulatory Roundup Vol. 36

Posted in Legislative, Regulatory

Fracking Insider Readers: We are pleased to bring you Volume 36 of our State Regulatory Roundup, including updates in North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas. As we explained in earlier volumes, we designed the Roundup to provide quick overviews on state regulatory activity. If you have any questions on any of these summaries, please do not hesitate to ask. Continue Reading

Agreement Leads to Withdrawal of Anti-Fracking Measures in Colorado

Posted in Regulatory

A group pushing two anti-fracking measures in Colorado has withdrawn the initiatives after reaching a deal with Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), who agreed to create a task force to make recommendations on how to minimize land-use conflicts in siting oil and gas facilities. The task force will consist of equal representation from energy companies, environmental groups, and local governments. Continue Reading

Commerce Department Places Severe Restrictions on Fracking Equipment Sales to Russia

Posted in Key Documents, Regulatory

This post was prepared by guest bloggers Eric McClafferty (202-342-8841) and Michael Dobson (202-342-8517), attorneys in Kelley Drye & Warren’s Export Controls and Compliance Practice.

Earlier today, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published a Federal Register notice (79 Fed. Reg. 151, 45675-82) describing expanded export controls on Russia. BIS previously implemented severe restrictions on licensable items proposed for shipment to Russia. These new and expanded BIS controls are effective today. They also build on the existing Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions on financing and extended payment terms on sales transactions (among other prohibitions) already released in Executive Orders 13660-62 and in derivative sectoral sanctions.

All proposed exports of fracking and petrochemical equipment, software and technology to Russia should now be reviewed under the new OFAC and new BIS sanctions programs. Continue Reading

Court Upholds Local Fracking Bans in New York State

Posted in Litigation, Regulatory

FrackingInsider has provided a few updates on the status of two municipal bans on hydraulic fracturing in the towns of Dryden and Middlefield in New York State (see our previous coverage here, here, and here). Last month, the New York State Court of Appeals sided with the towns and upheld the local bans on oil and gas development. The specific issue at hand in the case was whether towns have the right to limit oil and gas drilling using their local zoning laws, or whether the state Oil, Gas, and Solution Mining law pre-empts municipalities’ authority to ban development within municipal boundaries. Notwithstanding that the court’s 5-to-2 decision was based on an application of New York law, it was closely watched by stakeholders across the country embroiled in similar preemption debates. Interestingly, a few weeks later, a Colorado court struck down a local ban that was passed in the town of Longmont. Continue Reading

Hydraulic Fracturing: State Regulatory Roundup Vol. 35

Posted in Legislative, Regulatory

Fracking Insider Readers: We are pleased to bring you Volume 35 of our State Regulatory Roundup, including updates in Colorado, Maryland, and North Dakota. As we explained in earlier volumes, we designed the Roundup to provide quick overviews on state regulatory activity. If you have any questions on any of these summaries, please do not hesitate to ask. Continue Reading

Longmont Fracking Ban Struck Down

Posted in Litigation

On July 24th, Boulder County District Judge Dolores Mallard struck down the Longmont, Colorado ban on hydraulic fracturing. The ban, which was passed in November 2013, amended the city’s charter to prohibit hydraulic fracturing. After some failed negotiations with the state, a suit challenging the law was brought a month later by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. The state of Colorado joined the suit in July 2013. In her ruling, Judge Mallard indicated that the ban was contrary to Colorado law vesting primary regulatory authority over oil and gas operations within the state. She wrote, “There is no way to harmonize Longmont’s fracking ban within the stated goals of the [Colorado] Oil and Gas Conservation Act…the state interest in production, prevention of waste and protection of correlative rights, on the one hand, and Longmont’s interest in banning hydraulic fracturing on the other, present mutually exclusive positions.” In striking down the ban, Judge Mallard cited a 1992 Colorado Supreme Court case which established that while Colorado cities can regulate oil and gas activities, they cannot prohibit drilling outright.  Judge Mallard granted the plaintiffs’ requested order enjoining Longmont from enforcing the ban, but placed a stay on the order pending the appeals process. Continue Reading