National Energy Policy: USDA Funds Clean Energy Projects for PA Farmers and Rural Businesses
On March 28, 2024, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will be investing $5.69 million in 31 energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across 12 Pennsylvania counties. This investment is part of the March announcement of $120 million in Inflation Reduction Funds being allocated across 44 states through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The USDA stated that selected REAP projects help farmers and rural business owners “lower energy costs, generate new income and create jobs” by utilizing clean energy and increasing energy efficiency. The projects selected for funding in Pennsylvania can be accessed here. More information on REAP and their continuing application process can be found here.

Federal Lands: DOI Finalizes Drilling and Mining Ban for Thompson Divide
On April 3, 2024, the Department of the Interior (DOI) finalized a public land order banning new mining activity, including oil and gas drilling in western Colorado for the next 20 years. The ban covers 221,898 acres of federal lands in the Thompson Divide, with most of the acreage belonging to the National Forest System. The covered area also encompasses 35,000 acres of privately owned land that will not be subject to the ban, unless the federal government acquires the land in the future. Likewise unaffected by the order, are water rights and valid existing leases in the area. This act was originally proposed in October of 2022 as part of the current administration’s America the Beautiful initiative. According to the DOI’s announcement of the order, the ban will serve to prevent further mineral development in the covered area in order “to protect wildlife habitat, clean air and water, and outdoor recreation opportunities.” The order was published in the Federal Register with an effective date of April 8, 2024.

Oil and Gas Leasing: BOEM Announces Areas Being Considered for Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Leases
On April 1, 2024, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published a notice in the federal register announcing the Area Identification (Area ID) for the proposed Gulf of Mexico (GOM) oil and gas Lease Sales 262, 263, and 264. This Area ID announced which areas previously identified in the Call for Information and Nominations (Call), published by BOEM on October 2, 2023, will receive further consideration. In the notice, BOEM noted that the Area ID is a decision to lease or on how to conduct the series of lease sales. BOEM highlighted that these decisions would not be made until there has been an environmental analysis as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, consultation with state and local governments, and further comment requests from interested parties. More information on oil and gas leasing in the GOM can be found on the BOEM’s website.

Pipelines: D.C. Appeals Court Denies Petitions to Review Extensions Granted by the FERC
On March 29, 2024, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an opinion denying a petition for review of two decisions by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to extend project timelines. Sierra Club v. FERC, No. 22-1233, 3, 29, 2024 consolidated with Sierra Club v. FERC, No. 22-1267, 3, 29, 2024. In 2021, National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation was granted an extension for the Northern Access Pipeline after several permits were held up in New York State Court. Also, in 2021, Corpus Christi Liquefaction Stage III (and other associated entities) was granted an extension for improvements to a liquified natural gas terminal in Corpus Christi citing Covid related setbacks. In both cases, Sierra Club filed petitions challenging the extensions. In denying the petitions, the Court highlighted the FERC’s broad discretion when granting extensions. The Court noted that an extension granted by the FERC is only limited by the “arbitrary and capricious” standard of the Administrative Procedure Act, and that both extensions were granted for good cause. These determinations led the Court to reject both petitions to review the extension decisions.

GHG Emissions: EPA Announces Final Heavy-Duty Vehicle Rule
On March 29, 2024, EPA announced a final rule, “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3,” which creates new standards for heavy-duty vehicles, with compliance beginning in 2027. This final rule was initially proposed on April 27, 2023, and closed for comment on June 16, 2023. 88 Fed. Reg. 25,926 (April 27, 2023). This rule introduces stricter emissions standards, extends them to additional vehicle categories from Model Year (MY) 2027 onwards, and adjusts previously established MY 2027 standards. Additionally, it refines the Averaging, Banking, and Trading program to offer more flexibility while limiting some advanced technology credits. New warranty requirements for batteries and components in zero-emission vehicles, alongside customer-facing battery health monitors, are also mandated.

Severance Tax: West Virginia Appeals Court Denies Gas Company’s Refund Request for Severance Taxes Paid on NGLs
On Monday, March 25, 2024, the West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals affirmed a final decision by the West Virginia Office of Tax Appeals (OTA), which found that the State Tax Commissioner was authorized to impose taxes on natural gas liquids (NGLs) once they are severed from the earth at the wellhead. CNX Gas Co. LLC v. Irby, No. 23-ICA-36, 3/25/24. The petitioner, CNX Gas Company, LLC, is a natural gas producer with wells located throughout the Marcellus and Utica Shale regions of West Virginia. In its appeal, CNX argues, among other things, that the OTA “erroneously determined that the Tax Commissioner may impose severances taxes on the gross value of processed NGLs,” entitling the company to a refund for overpaid severances taxes from 2015 to 2018. CNX substantiates this argument by pointing to West Virginia’s statutory definition of “severing” or “severed” oil and natural gas, which, according to CNX’s interpretation, only allows for the imposition of severance taxes on NGLs sold at the wellhead, not those that are processed at offsite facilities, as these undergo a manufacturing process that is wholly distinct from severance activities. Therefore, because CNX produces “processed NGLs,” which are only marketable after an offsite manufacturing process occurs, a severance tax should not be applied to these products. The appeals court disagreed with this analysis, finding that, as defined by the statute, the value of NGLs is determined “at the time [they are] severed from the earth and so they are subject to the tax on their value at the well.” Therefore, any post-production processing, like that done by CNX, is excluded from the value of NGLs and does nothing to alter the amount of severance tax applied to these NGLs. With this interpretation, the court affirmed the OTA’s final decision in favor of the OTA and denied CNX’s request for a refund of overpaid severance taxes.

Landowner Royalties: Ohio Appeals Court Interprets a “Term Royalty Conveyance” Not to Burden Subsequent Leases
On Thursday, March 14, 2024, the Ohio 7th District Court of Appeals issued a final judgment in a lease language dispute involving several parties with an asserted royalty interest in in the oil and gas underlying “55 acres of real property in Jefferson County, Ohio.” Bounty Minerals, LLC v. LL&B Headwater II, No. 23-JE-0012, 3/14/24. The lease language giving rise to the dispute is that which defines the conditions under which the “Term Royalty Conveyance” would allow for LL&B Headwater II, LP to possess a continued royalty interest in the oil and gas under the property. More specifically, Appellant claims that because the language of the conditions is “ambiguous,” subsequent oil and gas leases should be burdened by Appellant’s pre-existing royalty interest, regardless of whether the conditions are met. The court disagreed with this interpretation, finding that the lower court correctly determined the Term Royalty Conveyance to have clear and unambiguous terms. Further, the court found that, because the expressly laid out conditions required for the Term Royalty Convenance to burden subsequent oil and gas leases did not occur, Appellant’s royalty interest terminated upon the expiration of the original lease. In closing, the appeals court affirmed the final judgment of the trial court, which plainly read the Term Royalty Conveyance as unambiguous.



Understanding Agricultural Law – A free monthly Zoom webinar series for all agricultural and rural business advisors. One hour of substantive CLE credit available for Pennsylvania-licensed attorneys at no charge. Recordings and materials from the series, more information, and registration available here.

On Tuesday, April 23, 2024, from 12 noon–1:00 ET, the Penn State Center for Agricultural and Shale Law will conduct the latest installment in its Quarterly Dairy Legal Webinar series. Each quarter’s free one-hour webinar covers the legal and regulatory developments in the U.S. dairy industry from the preceding quarter, as well as including an in-depth look at a single focus topic of law, regulation, or government policy of interest to dairy professionals of all kinds.

Follow us on Twitter @AgShaleLaw—Top #ShaleLaw HotLinks 

Ohio Oil, Appalachia Gas Plays Ripe for Consolidation (Hart Energy)

DOE defends LNG export pause, dismisses industry challenge (Politico Pro)

US EIA raises oil output, price forecasts for 2024 (Reuters)

Pipeline agency announces $392M to fix methane leaks (Politico Pro)

A Pennsylvania County Is Suing the Fossil Fuel Industry for Damages Linked to Climate Change (Inside Climate News)

Connect with us on Facebook.

Penn State Farmland Energy Legal Podcast: Listen to the latest episode here.

Oil & Gas Law & Policy Resources:

Sartain, Louisiana Regulatory Taking Claim Defeated (April 5, 2024)

Tigre & Bönnemann, The Transformation of European Climate Change Litigation: Introduction to the Blog Symposium (April 9, 2024)

Arntz & Krommendijk, Historic and Unprecedented: The ECtHR Upholds Positive Human Rights Obligations to Mitigate Climate Change (April 10, 2024)

Bibikos, At the Well Weekly (v.4.5.2024) (April 11, 2024)

Bloomberg, Oil Swings Near $90 With Risk of Iran Strike on Israel in Focus (April 11, 2024)

Hilson, The ECtHR’s Klimaseniorinnen Judgment: The Meaning of Carbon Budget within a Wide Margin of Appreciation (April 11, 2024)

Rocha, States’ extraterritorial jurisdiction for climate-related impacts (April 12, 2024)



Joint Statement between DOE and the Japan Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology Concerning a Strategic Partnership to Accelerate Fusion Energy Demonstration and Commercialization (April 10, 2024)


EPA Publishes Annual US Greenhouse Gas Inventory (April 11, 2024)

Shasta-Siskiyou Transport of Redding, Calif. to Pay Over $208,000 Penalty for Fuel Spill that Reached Sacramento River (April 10, 2024)

Biden-Harris Administration Finalizes First-Ever National Drinking Water Standard to Protect 100M People from PFAS Pollution (April 10, 2024)

Colonial Oil to Pay $2.8 Million Penalty for Failure to Meet Clean Air Act Fuels Regulations (April 10, 2024)

EPA and Federal Partners Seek Public Input on Great Lakes Action Plan (April 10, 2024)

EPA Deputy Administrator Visits Minneapolis to Announce $4 Million in Recycling Funding and New Electric School Buses under President Biden’s Investing in America agenda (April 9, 2024)

EPA Region 8 announces the 2024 Pollution Prevention Recognition Program (April 8, 2024)

FEDERAL EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Federal Register April 6, 2024– April 12, 2024)

Environmental Protection Agency

89 FR 25841: Proposed Rule, Comments Close 5/13/24: “Partial Approval and Partial Disapproval of Air Quality State Implementation Plans; New Jersey; 2015 Ozone Infrastructure Requirements” (April 12, 2024)

89 FR 25216: Proposed Rule, Comments Close 5/10/24: “Air Plan Approval; Colorado; 2017 Base Year Inventory and Emission Statement Rule Marginal Nonattainment Requirements, Revisions to Regulation 3” (April 10, 2024)

89 FR 25223: Proposed Rule, Comments Close 5/10/24: “Extension of the Attainment Date and Determination of Attainment by the Attainment Date of the Uinta Basin Marginal Nonattainment Area Under the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards” (April 10, 2024)

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

89 FR 25623: Notice: “Combined Notice of Filings” (April 11, 2024)

Energy Department

89 FR 25780: Rule: “Energy Conservation Program: Test Procedure for Consumer Furnace Fans” (April 12, 2024)

Land Management Bureau

89 FR 25922: Rule: “Update of the Communications Uses Program, Cost Recovery Fee Schedules, and Section 512 of FLPMA for Rights-of-Way” (April 12, 2024)

89 FR 25378: Rule: “Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation” (April 10, 2024)

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

89 FR 25434: Rule: “Hazardous Materials: Harmonization With International Standards” (April 10, 2024)

Susquehanna River Basin Commission

89 FR 25910: Notice: “Projects Approved for Consumptive Uses of Water” (April 12, 2024)

Other Agencies

89 FR 25577: Notice: “Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Geophysical Surveys Related to Oil and Gas Activities in the Gulf of Mexico” (April 11, 2024)

89 FR 25238: Notice: “Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Columbia Gulf East Lateral XPRESS Project” (April 10, 2024)


H.J.Res.128: “Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to “Standards of Performance for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources and Emissions Guidelines for Existing Sources: Oil and Natural Gas Sector Climate Review”.” Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. (April 11, 2024)

H.R.7900: “To establish a regulatory review process for rules that the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency plans to propose, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Agriculture, and in addition to the Committees on Energy and Commerce, and Transportation and Infrastructure, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned. (April 9, 2024)


S.4080: “A bill to require the Secretary of Energy to conduct a study and submit a report on national resource adequacy, and for other purposes.” Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. (April 9, 2024)

S.1662 “Pilot Butte Power Plant Conveyance Act” Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 356. (April 9, 2024)



DEP Issues $1.1 Million Civil Penalty to Equitrans for Violations Related to Rager Mountain Gas Release (April 9, 2024)

Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority Launches Initiative to Help Pennsylvanians Lower Electricity Costs by Financing Energy Efficiency Upgrades to Their Homes (April 10, 2024)

PENNSYLVANIA EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 54, No. 15 – April 13, 2024)

Department of Environmental Protection

54 Pa.B. 1959: Notices: “Applications, Actions and Special Notices”

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

54 Pa.B. 2048: Notices: “Service of Notice of Motor Carrier Applications”

Pennsylvania Legislature

HB 491: “An Act providing for energy efficiency and conservation plans with inclusion of mechanical insulation.” Third consideration and final passage, (201-0) [House] (April 9, 2024)

HB 254: “An Act authorizing the Department of Environmental Protection, in consultation with the Department of General Services to lease certain submerged lands within Erie County and associated wind, water and solar resources for the assessment, development, construction and operation of utility scale offshore wind, solar or kinetic energy generation facilities; providing for collection of certain lease and royalty payments; establishing the Lake Erie Large-Scale Energy System Development Fund; and providing for distributions and transfers from the fund.” Removed from table, [House] (April 10, 2024)

Written by:
Kendal Ashman, Research Assistant
Kole Zellers, Research Assistant
Dillon Lightfoot, Research Assistant
Jasmine Gunning, Research Assistant
Sergio Porras, Research Assistant
Jackie Schweichler, Staff Attorney