Category Archives: Regulatory

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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 co-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 Program. This issue is … 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

Obama Hands Down Two Large Land Protection Decisions for Alaska

Withdrawal of Areas from Oil and Gas Leasing Regions Earlier this year, President Obama announced the withdrawal of five zones in the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea oil and gas leasing regions, totaling 9.8 million acres. These include the Barrow and Kaktovik Whaling Areas in the Beaufort Seas, and the Hanna Shoal and Subsistence Areas … Continue Reading

Federal Government Releases Regulations for Fracking on Federal Lands

Last Friday, the Department of Interior released its final rule updating the regulations that govern hydraulic fracturing on federal public and American Indian lands. It covers standards for wells and well construction, disposal of wastewater, and disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process. These regulations have been in the works since 2012, and Interior … Continue Reading

Critical Habitat Designations Pose Substantial Threat to Oil and Gas Development

The federal government can restrict access to public lands for oil and gas drilling purposes through a number of means. Recently, President Obama’s proposal to designate millions of acres of land in Alaska as wilderness made the national press, as did his recent designation of forestlands in California as a national monument and his outright … Continue Reading

Hydraulic Fracturing: State Regulatory Roundup Vol. 39

Fracking Insider Readers: We are pleased to bring you Volume 39 of our State Regulatory Roundup, including updates in Maryland, Oregon, and Virginia. 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

Enviros Sue to Subject E&P Industry to Chemical Release Reporting Regime

Several environmental groups have sued EPA, seeking a decision on a 2012 petition (“2012 Petition”) they filed with the agency, which requests that EPA add oil and gas exploration wells to the list of facilities required to report releases of toxic chemicals to the Toxics Release Inventory (“TRI”) pursuant to the Emergency Planning and Community … Continue Reading

EPA’s National Enforcement Initiative Data Tracks Agency Action in the Energy Industry

Recently released data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s National Enforcement Initiative demonstrate how intensely EPA’s enforcement program is focused on the oil and gas industry, especially within key shale plays and basins.[1] More specifically, this map overlays the location of concluded enforcement actions and inspections and evaluations between fiscal years 2011 and 2014 over … Continue Reading

Gov. Cuomo Bans Hydraulic Fracturing in New York State Following Issuance of Department of Health Report

On December 17, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) office announced that it was banning hydraulic fracturing in New York because of health concerns, following the issuance of a long-awaited public health review of hydraulic fracturing by the state’s Department of Health (see our previous coverage here). The decision of whether to allow hydraulic fracturing had become … Continue Reading

DOE Authorizes LNG Export from Freeport Terminal

The Department of Energy has issued the two final authorizations (here and here) for Freeport LNG Expansion, L.P., and FLNG Liquefaction, LLC (Freeport), to export domestic liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries with which the U.S. does not have a free trade agreement (FTA). The agency determined that, with record domestic production at 75.05 Bcf/d, the … Continue Reading

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

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 … Continue Reading

Virginia Announces New Joint Fracking Review Process

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 … Continue Reading

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

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 … Continue Reading

Study Finds Artificial Earthquakes Weaker

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, … Continue Reading