Category Archives: Regulatory

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Congressional Energy Roundup (Week of June 27, 2016)

Fracking Insider Readers: Below, please find this week’s Congressional activity on oil and gas issues: Senate: “Status of BLM and Forest Service’s Efforts to Implement Amendments to Plans Regarding Sage Grouse Conservation and Coordination Activities with Affected States.” Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining. June 28, 2016. 2:30 … Continue Reading

Activists Using Misinformation to Kill Fracking in Wayne National Forest

A large billboard has been placed by anti-fracking extremists across from the Wayne National Forest (“the Wayne”) headquarters on U.S. Rt. 33 near Nelsonville, Ohio. The billboard declares, “Frack our national forest? No WAY(ne)!” in stark text next to a picture of an owl and a link to known misinformation site frackingexposed.com. Fracking Exposed, a … Continue Reading

OSHA Announces New Silica PEL of 50 µg/m3, Gives Fracking Five Years to Comply

Today the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (“OSHA”) published the new Permissible Exposure Limit (“PEL”) for occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica (“silica”).  The new standard sets a PEL of 50 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) and an action level (“AL”) of 25 µg/m3.  These are the same levels proposed in 2013.  The final … Continue Reading

OSHA Issues Hazard Alert on Tank Gauging

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have issued a new hazard alert for health and safety risks to workers who manually gauge or sample fluids on production and flowback tanks at oil and gas production sites. The alert, entitled Health and Safety Risks for … Continue Reading

Compliance with the Clean Air Act Increasingly Unlikely to Protect Companies from Nuisance Suits

A recent decision out of the Sixth Circuit found that the Clean Air Act (“CAA”) does not preempt common law claims brought against an emitter based on the law of the state in which the emitter operates. This decision, Merrick v. Diageo Americas Supply, Inc., No. 14-6198, 2015 WL 6646818 (6th Cir. Nov. 2, 2015), … Continue Reading

Sage Grouse Non-Listing Decision Highlights New Challenges to Industry

On September 22, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) announced its determination that the greater sage-grouse does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) – i.e., the sage grouse does not face the risk of extinction now or in the foreseeable future. While initially appearing to be a win for industry … Continue Reading

EPA Issues Final Residual Risk Rule for Refineries

On September 29, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued groundbreaking new regulations to control hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions from petroleum refineries, including a first ever requirement for fenceline monitoring and public reporting of monitoring data. The final rule arises from the “residual risk and technology” review of existing HAP standards for refineries … Continue Reading

EPA Denies Petition to Regulate Carbon to Address Ocean Acidification under TSCA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promptly rejected a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) requesting that the agency undertake a novel expansion of its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to regulate carbon dioxide to address ocean acidification (OA). Specifically, the CBD petition, filed on June 30, 2015, requested EPA … Continue Reading

Second Railroad Commission Decision Agrees Injection Well Not Likely Contributor to Earthquakes

Texas Railroad Commission examiners have determined that a well operated by EnerVest Operating LLC likely did not contribute to a series of earthquakes in the state, mirroring a similar determination made on August 31 in a proceeding involving Exxon Mobil Corp. subsidiary XTO Energy Inc. (see our coverage of the XTO case here).… Continue Reading

Railroad Commission Examiners Find Injection Well Not Likely Contributor to Earthquakes

The controversy around whether wastewater injection wells cause earthquakes was finally put to legal scrutiny in a recent proceeding before administrative hearing examiners (Examiners) with the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas production in the state. The Examiners found that an injection well owned by XTO Energy Inc. likely did not influence a … Continue Reading

More on Methane: Adjacency, Consistency, and a Major Source of Confusion

On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) issued a package of four proposals to control methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. By far, EPA’s proposed New Source Performance Standards (“NSPS”) have garnered the most attention. And, in many respects, the attention is warranted. The NSPS would require the aggressive deployment of costly controls … Continue Reading

EPA’s Estimate of the “Social Cost of Methane” Used to Justify New Source Performance Standards for the Oil and Natural Gas Industry

On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) issued proposed New Source Performance Standards (“NSPS”) under the Clean Air Act covering methane and volatile organic compound (“VOC”) emissions for certain equipment, processes, and activities in the oil and natural gas source category—including hydraulic fracturing and refractured oil wells that can contain natural … Continue Reading

Hydraulic Fracturing: State Regulatory Roundup Vol. 44

Fracking Insider Readers: We are pleased to bring you Volume 44 of our State Regulatory Roundup, including updates in California, Louisiana, and Maryland. 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 … Continue Reading

OSHA Intensifies Its Focus On the Upstream Oil & Gas Industry

Partner Wayne D’Angelo and associate Catherine Wilmarth authored the IPAA Access Magazine Summer 2015 article “Workplace Safety: OSHA Ramps Up Investigations and Enforcement in the Upstream Industry.” The article discusses the U.S. Occupational Health Administration’s increased focus on the upstream oil and gas industry as shown by the sector’s inclusion in the Severe Violator Enforcement … Continue Reading

Fish & Wildlife Service Issues Notice of Intent to Regulate Incidental Take of Migratory Birds

On May 26, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) published a notice of its intent to evaluate potential ways to regulate incidental takes of migratory birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (“MBTA”). The Notice of Intent specifically named oil, gas, and wastewater disposal pits and methane and other gas burner pipes as … Continue Reading

EPA’s Long-Awaited Study Finds that Fracking Can be Conducted Safely, Responsibly, and Without Adversely Impacting Drinking Water

After five years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that its long-awaited  assessment of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources identified no “widespread”  or “systemic” impacts. The assessment (completed pursuant to Congressional mandate) follows water through all fracking phases—water acquisition, chemical mixing, well injection, collection of wastewater, and wastewater treatment and … Continue Reading

Obama Administration Releases First Installment of the Quadrennial Energy Review

The Obama Administration released the first installment of its Quadrennial Energy Review (“QER”), which focuses on energy transmission, storage, and distribution (“TS&D”). The QER was first launched in Obama’s Climate Action Plan in June 2013, and is designed to provide an overview of and guidance for federal energy policy. The QER takes the form of … Continue Reading
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