GHG Emissions: Council on Environmental Quality Issues New Guidance for Agency Analysis of Greenhouse Gas and Climate Change Impacts
On January 6, 2023, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued new guidance for agencies in their analysis of how proposed actions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) will impact the climate and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. CEQ states that the purpose of the guidance is to help federal agencies better evaluate the impact of their agency actions on climate change. The new guidance asks agencies to consider both “(1) the potential effects of a proposed action on climate change… and, (2) the effects of climate change on a proposed action and its environmental impacts.”
GHG Emissions: Departments of Energy, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the EPA Release Joint Strategy Blueprint for the Elimination of GHG Emissions from Transportation Sector by 2050
On January 10, 2023, the departments of Energy, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency released a joint strategy aimed at the elimination of GHG emissions from the transportation sector by 2050. The report is titled “The National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization” and involves a mix of current action and future-planning. More specifically, the blueprint’s decarbonization methodology is broken down into decade long categories, with a focus on research and development before 2030, a drastic increase in clean energy deployment from 2030-2040, and an emphasis on sustainability and equity from 2040-2050. With respect to the oil and gas industry, the blueprint aims to replace 1,000 miles of legacy, leak-prone pipeline infrastructure by 2036 and to reduce methane emissions by approximately 1,000 metric tons.
Oil and Gas Leasing: North Dakota Sues Interior Department and Bureau of Land Management for Ban on Federal Oil and Gas Lease Sales
On January 5, 2023, the State of North Dakota filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Interior, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota Western Division. State of North Dakota v. Dept. of the Interior, No. 1:21-cv-00148. The complaint petitions the Court for review of the final agency action that led to the ban on federal oil and gas lease sales in North Dakota. North Dakota argues that the production made possible by these lease sales is a fundamental aspect of the state’s economy and that by banning these sales, these agencies have failed to comply with the lease sale requirements of the Mineral Leasing Act. The plaintiff also argues that this agency action violates regulatory requirements of the BLM, such as the duty to hold quarterly oil and gas lease sales if there are federal lands competitively available for leasing under 43 C.F.R. § 3120.1-2.
Oil and Gas Regulations: U.S. Secretary of the Interior Establishes Office for Abandoned Oil and Gas Well Cleanup
On January 10, 2023, The Secretary of the Interior issued Order No. 4309 which establishes the Orphan Wells Program Office, an office responsible for abandoned oil and gas well cleanup. The office will operate in accordance with Section 40601 of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was created to fund the plugging, remediation, and reclaiming of orphaned oil and gas wells that were created on “Federal, State, Tribal, and private lands.” The purpose of Section 40601, which received $4.7 billion in funding, was to mitigate the emission of pollutants by orphaned oil and gas wells into the atmosphere.
Municipal Regulation: Los Angeles sued by Oil Company Over New Law Poised to Phase Out Oil Production
On January 10, 2022, Warren Resources, Inc., a California-based oil and gas company, filed a complaint against the City of Los Angeles in the LA County Superior Court of California. The complaint seeks to challenge the City’s new ordinance, which bans the drilling of new wells, makes existing wells a nonconforming use, and prohibits the enhancement or modification of existing wells. Warren argues that by failing to analyze the environmental impact of the company’s operations before subjecting it to the new ordinance, the City has violated both the California Environmental Quality Act and due process of the law.
Air Quality: Fall 2022 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions Introduces Several New Air Quality and Energy Standards
On January 4, 2023, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs released the Fall 2022 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, which serves as a report on the current short-term and long-term strategies of numerous administrative agencies. The agenda introduces hundreds of proposed rules for 2023, several of which will have an impact on the oil and gas industry. One of the newly proposed rules, titled “Reconsideration of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone” will reconsider the EPA’s 2020 final decision on ozone (O3) national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) by reviewing all “policy-relevant information” and working with a new panel of O3 experts called the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). Another rule proposed by the EPA aims to revise the emissions monitoring and reporting standards under 40 CFR 75, including new definitions, performance specifications, and other changes that will impact power plants. The agenda also includes a proposed rule from the Bureau of Land Management, which will update the agency’s regulations concerning natural gas waste. The new rule will hold companies accountable for venting, flaring, and leaking natural gas extracted from Federal wells and pipelines as part of a broader effort to reduce methane emissions and combat climate change.
Oil & Gas Law & Policy Resources: 7-13
Bloomberg, US Rejects Oil Offers in First Attempt to Replenish Stockpiles (January 7, 2023)
Sartain, Louisiana Royalty Owner Survives Challenge to Demand For Payment (January 10, 2023)
Mallen, Johnson & Gonzalez, FERC Increases Maximum Civil Monetary Penalties (January 11, 2023)
Bloomberg, Philippine Supreme Court Revokes China Pact, Triggering Drop in Energy Stocks (January 11, 2023)
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FEDERAL ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE & LEGISLATIVE
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
DOE Opens Call for Deployable Solutions to Secure America’s Power Grid (January 9, 2023)
U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
FEDERAL EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Federal Register January 7–January 13, 2023):
88 FR 2190: Rule: “Inflation Adjustment of Civil Monetary Penalties” (January 13, 2023)
88 FR 1722: Proposed Rule: “Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Distribution Transformers” (January 11, 2023)
Environmental Protection Agency
88 FR 2357: Notice: “Environmental Impact Statements; Notice of Availability” (January 13, 2023)
88 FR 2093: Notice, Comments Close 3/13/2023: “Public Comment on EPA’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives for Fiscal Years 2024-2027″ (January 12, 2023)
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
88 FR 1216: Notice, Comments Close 2/8/2023: “Commission Information Collection Activities (FERC-555); Comment Request; Extension” (January 9, 2023)
Natural Resources Revenue Office
88 FR 1290: Notice, Comments Close 2/8/2023: “Agency Information Collection Activities: Federal Oil and Gas Valuation; OMB Control Number 1012-0005″ (January 9, 2023)
Susquehanna River Basin Commission
88 FR 1623: Notice: “Projects Approved for Consumptive Uses of Water” (January 11, 2023)
Ocean Energy Management Bureau
88 FR 2371: Notice: “Gulf of Mexico OCS Oil and Gas Lease Sales 259 and 261: Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement” (January 13, 2023)
88 FR 2430: Proposed Rule, Comments Close 3/17/2023: “Mining of the Osage Mineral Estate for Oil and Gas” (January 13, 2023)
88 FR 1196: Notice, Comments Close 3/10/2023: “National Environmental Policy Act Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change” (January 9, 2023)
88 FR 1135: Rule: “Energy Labeling Rule; Correction” (January 9, 2023)
U.S. HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE
H.R.337 “To prohibit Federal agencies from banning gas-burning stoves.” Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. (January 12, 2023)
H.R.293 “To amend the Energy Policy and Conservation Act to prohibit the export or sale of petroleum products from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to certain entities, and for other purposes.” Sponsor introductory remarks on measure. (January 12, 2023)
H.R.22 “Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act” Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. (January 12, 2023)
H.R.263 “To prohibit any rule or guidance that bans gas stoves in the United States.” Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. (January 10, 2023)
H.R.246 “To amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing a fee on certain facilities for methane emissions.” Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. (January 10, 2023)
H.R.222 “To direct the Secretary of Energy to require as a condition of any sale of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that the crude oil not be exported to certain countries, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. (January 9, 2023)
STATE ACTIONS—EXECUTIVE & LEGISLATIVE
PENNSYLVANIA DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION PRESS RELEASES
Wolf Administration Announces Over $3.5 Million for Conservation Projects in Northcentral Pennsylvania (January 12, 2023)
PENNSYLVANIA EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 53, No. 2 January 14, 2023)
S.B.35 “An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in liquid fuels and fuels tax, further providing for definitions.” Third consideration and final passage, Jan. 11, 2023. (January 11, 2023).
Kole Zellers, Research Assistant
Kendal Ashman, Research Assistant
Jackie Schweichler, Staff Attorney