Pipelines: Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Orders the Public Release of Emails Between Middletown Township and Energy Transfer Concerning the Mariner East 2 Pipeline
On October 15, 2021, the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas ordered Middletown Township to give residents of the Glen Riddle Station Apartments, located along the Mariner East 2 Pipeline, access to their email communications with Energy Transfer, which access was initially refused by the company. The Court of Common Pleas held that these communications are public. Energy Transfer, the owner of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline, was recently charged for environmental crimes by a grand jury, including environmental spills. See SLWR – Oct. 11, 2021, Pipelines: Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General Charges Energy Transfer with Environmental Crimes Related to the Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction.
Renewable Energy: Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Approves UGI Utilities’ Purchase of Renewable Natural Gas as Sustainable Energy Solution to Customers
On October 21, 2021, UGI Corporation announced in a press release that the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) granted UGI Utilities approval for the purchase renewable natural gas (RNG) as part of a “first of its kind” five-year pilot program in Pennsylvania. According to the press release, this pilot program “is intended to explore how UGI Utilities can integrate renewable natural gas (RNG) into its supply portfolio to produce economic and environmental benefits for its Purchased Gas Cost (PGC) customers.”
GHG Emissions: New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Denies Air Permit Applications for Natural Gas Power Plants
On October 27, 2021, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied two Title V air permit applications, respectively filed by Astoria Gas Turbine Power, LLC and Danskammer Energy, LLC, for the construction and operation of new natural gas power plants. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos pointed out that both proposed projects do not meet the requirements laid down in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and that they “would be inconsistent with or would interfere with the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits established in the Climate Act.”
Pipelines: California Federal Court Vacates and Remands Without Vacatur Section 401 Certification Rule
On October 21, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California vacated the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 Certification Rule, formerly adopted in July 2020 under the Trump administration, and remanded it back to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) without vacatur for further proceedings. In re: Clean Water Act Rulemaking, USDC N.D. Cal., No. 3:20-cv-4636. Earlier in June 2021, EPA published in the Federal Register a notice of its intent to revise the Certification Rule, which became effective on September 11, 2020. The Certification Rule restricted state and Tribal authority under Section 401 to review projects and their potential impacts on water. In May 2021, EPA already indicated that it would revise the Certification Rule subsequent to President Biden’s Executive Order 1399. EPA wrote that it “intend[ed] to reconsider and revise the 2020 CWA Section 401 Certification Rule to restore the balance of state, Tribal, and federal authorities while retaining elements that support efficient and effective implementation of Section 401.
Shale Law/Policy Resources of Interest:
George A. Bibikos, At the Well Weekly (v.10.22.2021) (October 26, 2021).
AGENCY PRESS RELEASES – STATE/FEDERAL
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
No relevant actions.
U.S. Department of Energy
DOE Announces $209 Million for Electric Vehicles Battery Research (October 27, 2021).
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Recognizes Freight Industry Leaders for Environmental Performance (October 27, 2021).
EPA Appoints New Members to National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (October 27, 2021).
Pennsylvania Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 51, No. 44—October 30, 2021)
Department of Environmental Protection
51 Pa.B. 6846 Notice: “Availability of Grants through the DC Fast Charging and Hydrogen Fueling Grant Program.”
Susquehanna River Basin Commission
51 Pa.B. 6889 Notice: “Projects Approved for Consumptive Uses of Water [for September].”
HB 2034 “An Act amending Title 27 (Environmental Resources) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in preliminary provisions, providing for the Environmental Justice Advisory Board.” Referred to Environmental Resources and Energy [House] (October 29, 2021).
SB 275 “An Act amending Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in preemptions, providing for restrictions on utility services prohibited [restricting municipality ability to prohibit sale or usage of electricity based on its source].” Referred to Local Government [House] (October 28, 2021).
HB 65 “An Act amending Title 66 (Public Utilities) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in powers and duties, providing for prohibited actions [Requiring Hearings at the Request of General Assembly Members].” Referred to Consumer Affairs [House] (October 28, 2021).
HB 668 “An Act amending. . . the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act, further providing for Mining and Reclamation Advisory Board [Adding a Coal Refuse Energy Member].” Removed from Table [House] (October 27, 2021).
HB 2018 “An Act providing for minimum wages for employee benefits for workers on projects related to renewable energy.” Referred to Labor and Industry [House] (October 27, 2021).
HR 151 “A Concurrent Resolution recognizing the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the 17 principles of Environmental Justice that were presented to delegates at the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit.” Referred to Environmental Resources and Energy [House] (October 26, 2021).
HB 1947 “An Act amending Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in preemptions, providing for restrictions on utility services prohibited [restricting municipality ability to prohibit sale or usage of electricity based on its source].” Laid on the Table [House] (October 26, 2021).
HR 148 “A Resolution urging the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to. . . revise the nationwide Renewable Fuel Standard (“RFS”) updating volume mandates to provide relief to refiners in Pennsylvania, the East Coast and elsewhere, and to implement additional reforms going forward which will allow for the blending of renewable fuels consistent with the original intention of the RFS program, while containing costs for independent refiners.” Report as Committed [House] (October 25, 2021).
HB 1801 “An Act amending. . . the Engineer, Land Surveyor and Geologist Registration Law, further providing for procedure for licensing as professional engineer [Reducing Burdens].” Referred to Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure [Senate] (October 26, 2021).
SB 919 “An Act authorizing electric distribution companies to establish local solar programs; and providing for solar renewable energy credits and for powers and duties of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.” Referred to Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure [Senate] (October 25, 2021).
Upcoming Meeting: House Environmental Resources and Energy Meeting on Monday, November 8, 2021.
Federal Executive Agencies (Federal Register October 25 – October 29, 2021):
86 FR 59887 Proposed Rule, Withdrawal: “Energy Conservation Program: Certification, Compliance, Labeling, and Enforcement for Electric Motors and Small Electric Motors; Withdrawal” (October 29, 2021).
Environmental Protection Agency
86 FR 58829 Proposed Rule: “Notification of Regional Roundtable Discussions Regarding “Waters of the United States’ [Seeking Nominations for Roundtables]” (October 25, 2021).
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
86 FR 59702 Notice: “North Baja Pipeline, LLC; Notice of Availability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed North Baja XPress Project” (October 28, 2021).
86 FR 59707 Notice: “Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC; Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Regional Energy Access Expansion Project, Request for Comments on Environmental Issues, and Schedule for Environmental Review” (October 28, 2021).
86 FR 59375 Notice: “PacifiCorp; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions to Intervene, and Competing Applications [for the Dry Canyon Pumped Storage Project]” (October 27, 2021).
86 FR 59372 Notice: “WBI Energy Transmission, Inc.; Notice of Request Under Blanket Authorization and Establishing Intervention and Protest Deadline [for a ‘Line Section 7 Expansion Project in McLean and Morton Counties, North Dakota’]” (October 27, 2021).
86 FR 59158 Notice: “Driftwood Pipeline LLC; Notice of Amendment to Application and Establishing Intervention Deadline [Modifications of Pipeline Project Due to ‘relocating the proposed Indian Bayou Compressor Station’]” (October 26, 2021).
86 FR 58902 Notice: “Gas Transmission Northwest, LLC; Notice of Application and Establishing Intervention Deadline [Modification to Compressor Station Project ‘located in Kootenai County, Idaho, Walla Walla County, Washington, and Sherman County, Oregon’]” (October 25, 2021).
86 FR 60076 Notice: “Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree Under the Clean Air Act [for Heavy-Duty Diesel Engines ‘without a valid EPA-issued certificate of conformity demonstrating compliance’]” (October 29, 2021).
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
86 FR 60102 Notice: “Pipeline Safety: Request for Special Permit; Colorado Interstate Gas Company, LLC [Requesting Relief from Pressure Limits]” (October 29, 2021).
House Energy and Commerce Committee Actions:
H.Res.755 “Expressing support for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow and reaffirming the United States commitment to international cooperation combating climate change.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. . . (October 28, 2021).
H.R.4476 “DHS Trade and Economic Security Council Act of 2021 [Establishes the Aforementioned Council to Protect Economic and Supply Chain Security]” Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by Voice Vote (October 26, 2021).
H.R.4055 “American Cybersecurity Literacy Act [Directs the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to ‘develop and conduct a cybersecurity literacy campaign’]” Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 113 (October 26, 2021).
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee:
S.3121 “A bill to require the Secretary of Energy to establish a council to conduct a survey and analysis of the employment figures and demographics in the energy, energy efficiency, and motor vehicle sectors of the United States, and for other purposes.” Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (October 28, 2021).
S.3120 “A bill to improve the productivity and energy efficiency of the manufacturing sector by directing the Secretary of Energy, in coordination with the National Academies and other appropriate Federal agencies, to provide assistance to small and medium manufacturers in implementing smart manufacturing programs, and for other purposes.” Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (October 28, 2021).
S.3118 “A bill to require the Secretary of Energy to establish a hydrogen infrastructure finance and innovation pilot program, and for other purposes.” Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (October 28, 2021).
S.3112 “A bill to amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to establish a Hydrogen Technologies for Heavy Industry Grant Program, and for other purposes.” Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (October 28, 2021).
S.3086 “A bill to require the Energy Information Administration to submit to Congress and make publicly available an annual report on Federal agency policies and regulations and Executive orders that have increased or may increase energy prices in the United States, and for other purposes.” Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (October 27, 2021).
S.3066 A bill to require the Secretary of Energy to establish a battery material processing grant program and a battery manufacturing and recycling grant program, and for other purposes. Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (October 26, 2021).
Follow us on Twitter @AgShaleLaw—Top #ShaleLaw HotLinks October 23–October 29, 2021:
Unchecked Oil and Gas Wastewater Threatens California Groundwater, Inside Climate News
Tribes Want Corps Consultant Drafting Dakota Access Pipeline EIS Fired as Biased, Engineering News-Record
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Noah Gochnauer, Research Assistant
Chloe Marie, Research Specialist
Jackie Schweichler, Staff Attorney