Public Lands: DOI and BLM Issue Final Conservation and Leasing Rule for Public Lands ⚡
On April 18, 2024, the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced a final rule relating to the BLM’s management and conservation of public lands. The Public Lands Rule mandates that the BLM manage the landscape of public lands as a whole with land health in mind, in order to protect watersheds, local ecosystems, and wildlife habitats. The Rule also provides for restoration leases seeking to restore degraded lands, and mitigation leases, which will allow lessees to offset their environmental impacts by investing in the land health of public lands. The leases will be available to qualified individuals, Tribal governments, conservation districts, businesses, and state agencies, so long as the leases do not conflict with previously authorized usages. It establishes a framework for BLM to continue identifying and prioritizing Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) through land use planning and a nomination process, as required by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). The Rule places a duty on BLM to take “appropriate action” where a particular land usage doesn’t promote land health, and to also to seek out Tribal co-stewardship where other agency guidance allows. The proposed rule of April 2023 received over 150,000 comments, which largely resulted in further clarification of the leasing and ACEC concepts. Issuance of this Rule complements the BLM’s recent Renewable Energy Rule, which seeks to advance responsible development of renewable energy on public lands. Publication of the Rule in the Federal Register is forthcoming.

GHG Emissions: States Ask DC Court to Stay EPA’s Recent Emissions Rule
On April 12, 2024, twenty-four states led by Oklahoma and West Virginia filed a motion to stay the recent rule promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions by oil and gas companies. State of Texas v. EPA, No. 24-1054. The state of Texas filed a petition for review challenging the rule on March 8, 2024. Petitioners call the rule “onerous” and claim that it will cost states millions to be in compliance with the new rule. Petitioners point to Section 111 of the Clean Air Act which charges the states with developing standards of performance for regulating emissions. Further, petitioners argued that any performance standards developed by the EPA must consider the cost they would impose. Petitioners ask the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to stay the rule while the petition is pending.

Public Lands: DOI Announces Revised Oil & Gas Leasing Regulations for Wildlife and Cultural Sites
On Friday, April 12, 2024, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced a final rule that will “revise the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) oil and gas leasing regulations” to protect “important wildlife habitat or cultural sites.” The final rule is titled “The Fluid Mineral Leases and Leasing Process,” and it will bring numerous changes to the federal oil and gas leasing regulations in accordance with the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act. According to the DOI, these changes, which will impact the “fiscal terms of the onshore federal oil and gas leasing program – including for bonding requirements, royalty rates, and minimum bid,” are the first comprehensive updates to the “federal oil and gas leasing framework since 1988.” Regarding the initiative to protect wildlife and culture, the final rule aims to direct oil and gas development out of areas containing “important wildlife habitat[s] and important cultural sites.” Other key elements of the new rule include updates to the minimum lease bond amount, which will be increased from $10,000 to $150,000 to incentivize “companies to meet their reclamation obligations” and to better cover “potential costs to reclaim a well should this obligation not be met.” Additionally, the minimum royalty rate for leases will be permanently increased from 12.5 percent to 16.67 percent, the minimum bid amount for leases at auction will be increased from $2 per acre to $10 per acre, lease rental rates for all rental periods will be increased, and a $5 per acre fee for expressions of interest will be implemented.



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 May 4, 2024, from 9:30am–3:00pm (ET), Penn State Extension will present “Succession Planning for Forest Landowners” at the Dauphin County Extension in Dauphin, PA. Center Staff Attorney Brook Duer will present as part of the program.

Follow us on Twitter @AgShaleLaw—Top #ShaleLaw HotLinks 

Estimating emissions potential of decommissioned gas wells from shale samples (Penn State Extension)

EIA: US natural gas consumption set annual, monthly records in 2023 (Oil & Gas Journal)

U.S. natural gas trade will continue to grow with the startup of new LNG export projects (EIA)

Students at US universities file legal complaints over fossil fuel investments (The Guardian)

JPMorgan warns of need for ‘reality check’ on phasing out fossil fuels (Financial Times)

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

Oil & Gas Law & Policy Resources:

McFarland, DeVilliers Prevail in US Supreme Court (April 19, 2024)

Bloomberg, Exxon’s Market Value Tops Tesla’s as Oil Rises, EV Sales Slow (April 19, 2024)

Fadlallah, et al., OFAC Reimposes Venezuela Oil and Gas Sector Sanctions but Leaves Door Open for Possible Specific Licensing (April 23, 2024)

Bloomberg, Shell, TotalEnergies in Talks for Stakes in New Adnoc LNG Plant (April 23, 2024)

Arlota & Gerrard, Legal Issues in Oceanic Transport of Carbon Dioxide for Sequestration: Sabin Center Launches New Report (April 24, 2024)

Nicely, et al., New Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Petitions on Solar Cells and Modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam (April 25, 2024)

Lockman, To Protect New Fossil Fuel Waste Rule, BLM Cuts 95% of its Climate Benefits (April 25, 2024)

Sartain, Texas Court Refuses to Write in a Width to a Pipeline Easement (April 26, 2024)

Jahn, The Paris Effect: Human Rights in Light of International Climate Goals and Commitments (April 26, 2024)



Biden-Harris Administration Invests Over $17 Million To Build Domestic Supply Chain for Critical Minerals and Materials (April 23, 2024)

Improving Indoor Air Quality for Cancer Prevention (April 23, 2024)

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $362 Million Loan to CelLink to Support Domestic Manufacturing of Key Electric Vehicle Supply Chain Components (April 24, 2024)

Biden-Harris Administration Releases Offshore Wind Liftoff Report and $48 Million in New Funding to Accelerate Technology and Manufacturing (April 24, 2024)

U.S. Department of Energy Announces Final Rule to Propel Federal Buildings Toward Zero Emissions (April 24, 2024)

DOE Reduces Regulatory Hurdles For Energy Storage, Transmission, and Solar Projects (April 25, 2024)

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Final Transmission Permitting Rule and Latest Investments To Accelerate the Build Out of a Resilient, Reliable, Modernized Electric Grid (April 25, 2024)


Biden-Harris Administration Finalizes Suite of Standards to Reduce Pollution from Fossil Fuel-Fired Power Plants (April 25, 2024)

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Nearly $1 Billion in Grants to Invest in America’s Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicle Transition (April 24, 2024)

EPA Announces $124M to Deliver Residential Solar, Lowering Energy Costs and Advancing Environmental Justice Across Alaska (April 23, 2024)

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Virginia Department of Energy to Receive More Than $156 million to Deliver Residential Solar, Lowering Energy Costs and Advancing Environmental Justice Across Virginia (April 23, 2024)

Biden-Harris Administration Announces the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources will Receive $156,120,000 to Deliver Residential Solar, Lowering Energy Costs and Advancing Environmental Justice (April 23, 2024)

EPA Announces Online Collection of Environmental Justice Resources (April 23, 2024)

Reaction to EPA’s Solar for All Shows Positive Momentum for Solar Power Across NJ, NY, PR and USVI (April 23, 2024)

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority to Receive over $156 Million to Deliver Residential Solar, Lowering Energy Costs and Advancing Environmental Justice Across PA (April 22, 2024)

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $7 Billion Solar for All Grants to Deliver Residential Solar, Saving Low-Income Americans $350 Million Annually and Advancing Environmental Justice Across America (April 22, 2024)

FEDERAL EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Federal Register April 20, 2024– April 26, 2024)

Environmental Protection Agency

89 FR 32532: Rule: “PFAS National Primary Drinking Water Regulation” (April 26, 2024)

89 FR 31802: Rule: “Revisions and Confidentiality Determinations for Data Elements Under the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule (April 25, 2024)

89 FR 31202: Notice, Comments Close 5/24/24: “Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NSPS for Onshore Natural Gas Processing Plants (Renewal)” (April 24, 2024)

89 FR 29440: Rule: “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles-Phase 3” (April 22, 2024)

Energy Department

89 FR 29834: Rule: “Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Distribution Transformers” (April 22, 2024)

Land Management Bureau

89 FR 30916: Rule: “Fluid Mineral Leases and Leasing Process” (April 23, 2024)

Ocean Energy Management Bureau

89 FR 31544: Rule, Comments Close 5/24/24: “Risk Management and Financial Assurance for OCS Lease and Grant Obligations” (April 24, 2024)

Other Agencies

89 FR 33112: Notice: “Final Determination: Adoption of Energy Efficiency Standards for New Construction of HUD- and USDA-Financed Housing” (April 26, 2024)

89 FR 31488: Rule: “Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Geophysical Surveys in the Gulf of Mexico” (April 24, 2024)

89 FR 31008: Notice, Comments Close 5/23/24: “Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Phase 2 Construction of the Vineyard Wind 1 Offshore Wind Project Off Massachusetts” (April 23, 2024)

89 FR 29307: 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 22, 2024)


H.Res.1167 “Recognizing the benefits of natural gas to the United States economy and environment, and recognizing natural gas as an affordable and “green” energy.” Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Natural Resources, 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 23, 2024)



DEP Awards $2.9 Million for Clean Diesel Transportation to Improve Air Quality (April 23, 2024)

Pennsylvania to Receive Over $156 Million from Biden Administration for “Solar for All” Initiative (April 23, 2024)

Shapiro Administration and Partners Celebrate Turtle Creek Watershed Stream Restoration, Investments, and Water Quality Improvements (April 25, 2024)

PENNSYLVANIA EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 54, No. 17 – April 27, 2024)

Department of Environmental Protection

54 Pa.B. 2328: Notices: “Pennsylvania’s Ozone Exceptional Event Analyses for June 1, 2023, through June 2, 2023, and June 29, 2023, through June 30, 2023”

Pennsylvania Legislature

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.”

Referred to ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY [Senate] (April 22, 2024)

HB 491 “An Act providing for energy efficiency and conservation plans with inclusion of mechanical insulation.” Referred to CONSUMER PROTECTION AND PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE [Senate] (April 22, 2024)


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