Oil and Gas Leasing: Lawsuit Filed Challenging Federal Leasing Sales
On June 28, 2022, several conservation groups filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s approval of the sale of 173 oil and gas leasing parcels. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District Court of Columbia, includes groups such as the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and Dakota Resource Council. The conservation groups’ argument is that the approvals violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act by failing to acknowledge and “without taking a hard look at” possible climate change impacts of said oil and gas leases. Dakota Resource Council, et al. v. U.S. Dept. Of the Interior, et al, Case No. 1:22-cv-1853.
Pipelines: D.C. Court Upholds FERC Approval of Southgate Project
On June 28, 2022, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an opinion denying environmental groups’ petition for review of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of Mountain Valley’s Southgate Project. Sierra Club, et al. v. Mountain Valley Pipeline, et al, Case No. 20-1427. The court found that FERC’s grant of approval with a Certificate Order and FERC’s denial of rehearing to the environmental groups were “reasonable and supported by substantial evidence.” The Southgate Project would connect Mountain Valley’s pipelines in Virginia to facilities in South Carolina.
Pipelines: Court Denies Mountain Valley Pipeline’s Motion for Random Panel Assignment
On June 22, 2022, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued an order denying Mountain Valley Pipeline’s motion for assignment of the case to a random panel of judges. Sierra Club, et al. v. State Water Control Board, et al., Case No. 21-2425. Mountain Valley Pipeline had initially requested a random panel of judges because the company claimed public confidence in the panel of judges was threatened due to how it had treated the Mountain Valley Pipeline project’s government approvals previously. The lawsuit, initially filed by Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, and other conservation groups, challenges the Virginia State Water Board’s grant of stream crossing permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project.
Oil and Gas Regulations: PA General Assembly Publishes Permit Regarding Temporary Oil and Gas Waste Facilities
On June 25, 2022, the Pennsylvania General Assembly published a permit providing changes to the procedures and regulations for temporary oil and gas waste processing facilities. The permit, officially titled General Permit WMGR163, allows temporary waste processing facilities to operate no less than 300 feet from occupied dwellings (with some exceptions), 50 feet from a property line, 300 feet from a water source, and no less than 900 feet from school buildings, parks, and playgrounds. The permit also requires up to date recordkeeping on dates and volumes of processed waste and records of water sources used by the facilities.
Oil and Gas Regulation: Bill Proposed in PA Senate for Suspending Certain Gas Taxes
On June 21, 2022, SB 1293 was introduced to the Pennsylvania Senate. The bill, also termed the Summer Gas Tax Relief Act, amends Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. The bill would suspend Pennsylvania’s $0.576/gallon Liquid Fuels Tax until Labor Day, September 5, 2022. The bill also makes appropriations for the Pennsylvania State Police and sets forth policies regarding the Commonwealth’s debt.
Oil and Gas Leasing: National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program Opens for Public Comment
On July 1, 2022, the U.S. Department of the Interior issued an announcement about its proposed program for offshore oil and gas leasing, officially titled the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The program, which would go into effect from 2023-2028, includes up to ten sales in the Gulf of Mexico and up to one sale off the shore of Alaska. Per the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s website, “A Notice of Availability (NOA) published in the Federal Register on Friday, July 8, 2022. Publication of the NOA initiated a 90-day public comment period, which will close on Thursday, October 6, 2022.”
Pipelines: Mountain Valley Pipeline Requests Extension of Time
On June 24, 2022, Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requesting additional time to complete Mountain Valley Pipeline project. The “Request for Extension of Time” letter states the pipeline is “nearly 94% complete,” but the company would like the completion time frame extended to October 13, 2026. The reason for the request is the ongoing litigation regarding Mountain Valley Pipeline’s authorizations.
Oil & Gas Law & Policy Resources:
Sartain & Cuppitelli, Were the Mineral Deeds a Gift or a Sale? It Made a Difference. (June 28, 2022)
Nicely, et al, Update: Policies at Cross-Purposes: U.S. Trade Policy Creates Cloudy Picture for Rapid Deployment of Solar Energy (June 29, 2022)
Bloomberg, Oil Set for First Monthly Decline This Year Before OPEC+ Meeting (June 30, 2022)
Bloomberg, Oil Feels Sting of Recession Concerns as Weekly Losses Pile Up (July 1, 2022)
Energy Connects, Supply outages, industrial action trigger fresh oil market rally (July 1, 2022)
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FEDERAL ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE & LEGISLATIVE
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
FEDERAL EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Federal Register June 24 – July 1, 2022):
87 FR 39164: Proposed Rule, Comments End 8/29/22: “Energy Conservation Program: Test Procedure for Commercial Refrigerators, Refrigerator-Freezers, and Freezers” (June 30, 2022).
Environmental Protection Agency
87 FR 39511: Notice, Comments Period Ends 8/1/2022: “n-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP); Draft Revision to Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Risk Determination; Notice of Availability and Request for Comment” (July 1, 2022)
87 FR 38284: Rule: “Air Plan Approval; State Implementation Plan Revisions Required by the 2008 and 2015 Ozone Standards” (June 28, 2022).
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
87 FR 39439: Proposed Rule, Comments Period Ends 8/1/2022: “Exemptions From Average Fuel Economy Standards; Passenger Automobile Average Fuel Economy Standards” (July 1, 2022).
Bureau of Land Management
87 FR 39118: Notice: “Temporary Closure and Temporary Restrictions of Specific Uses on Public Lands for the 2022 Burning Man Event (Permitted Event), Pershing County, NV” (June 30, 2022)
87 FR 38875: Presidential Document: “Increasing Duties on Certain Articles From the Russian Federation” (June 30, 2022).
87 FR 38920: Rule: “Addition of Entities, Revision and Correction of Entries, and Removal of Entities From the Entity List” (June 30, 2022).
STATE ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE & LEGISLATIVE
PENNSYLVANIA DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION PRESS RELEASES
PENNSYLVANIA EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 52, No. 26- July 1, 2022)
Kendal Ashman, Research Assistant
Ethan Durand, Research Assistant
Jackie Schweichler, Staff Attorney