Infrastructure: DOE Finalizes Rule Banning the Use of Fossil Fuels in Federal Buildings
On May 1, 2024, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Federal Energy Management Program published in the Federal Register a final rule titled “Clean Energy for New Federal Buildings and Major Renovations of Federal Buildings” (89 FR 35384). This rule seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by phasing out the use of on-site fossil fuels for ends uses in federal buildings. The rule will require new federal construction projects starting between 2025 and 2029 to reduce the building’s on-site use of fossil fuel by 90%, with total elimination in both new projects and substantial renovations in 2030. According to the DOE announcement, the new rule will impact over 300,000 wholly owned or leased federal buildings and is expected to “reduce pollution, improve air quality, create good-paying jobs, and take advantage of cost savings from using more energy-efficient equipment.” Over the next 30 years, the new standards are also projected to yield a reduction of carbon and methane emissions equivalent to those of 310,000 households within a given year. This rule was originally proposed in October of 2010, and has gone through several revisions and additional comment periods since. The new rule will become effective on July 15, 2024.

Environmental Impact: CEQ Finalizes NEPA Permitting Reform Rule
On May 1, 2024, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published in the Federal Register a final rule titled “National Environmental Policy Act Implementing Regulations Revisions Phase 2” (89 FR 35442)—also known as the “Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule.” This rule reforms the environmental review and permitting process under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). More specifically, it creates new procedures for establishing categorical exclusions across multiple agencies, allowing for expedited permitting in cases where agencies have determined environmental review is unnecessary due to the minimal environmental impact of the proposed project. For projects requiring review, the rule requires the designation of a lead agency and sets review deadlines of one to two years, with expedited review for projects that incorporate environmental mitigation measures. According to the CEQ announcement, the 2020 NEPA rule’s provisions limiting judicial review and community input, and considered potential litigation risks, have been removed. The Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule expands community engagement by encouraging public comment throughout the review process and promoting community buy-in. The CEQ emphasizes that the rule balances flexibility between specific situations and statutory requirements. This new rule will apply to projects starting their environmental review process on or after July 1, 2024.

GHG Emissions: States Sue the BLM Over Natural Gas Waste and Royalties Rule
On April 24, 2024, a group of four states, including North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Texas filed a complaint challenging the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule titled “Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation” (89 FR 25378) before the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota. State of North Dakota, et al. v. U.S. Department of Interior, No. 1:24-cv-66. BLM’s stated purposed of the rule is to reduce natural gas waste resulting from oil and gas drilling activities by imposing royalty payments on producers for natural gas losses due to venting, flaring, and leaking. These royalty payments go to the public or Indian mineral owners of the land where the waste occurs. The rule is set to become effective on June 10, 2024. The plaintiffs alleged that the rule primarily focuses on greenhouse gas emissions and encroaches on legislative authority delegated to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They argued that this encroachment violates the “cooperative federalism framework” established under the Clean Air Act, and that BLM’s encroachment actions infringe upon the states’ sovereign authority to regulate emissions and natural gas development within their jurisdiction. Additionally, the plaintiffs argued that the rule violates the Mineral Leasing Act, Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act, and Federal Land Policy and Management Act. They are seeking injunctive relief to prevent the rule’s enforcement and asked the court to vacate the rule. On May 10, 2024, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint adding the state of Utah to the complaint.

Public Lands: DOI Announces Final Rule Authorizing Conservation Leases on Public Land
On May 9, 2024, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published in the Federal Register a final rule titled “Conservation and Landscape Health” (89 FR 40308)—also known as the “Public Lands Rule.” The rule is set to become effective on June 10, 2024. In a recent announcement, the BLM highlighted that the Public Lands Rule will encourage conservation efforts by allowing public lands to be leased for restoration and mitigation purposes. More specifically, and according to a factsheet, the rule will establish a framework for the BLM to grant restoration and mitigation leases available to those “entities seeking to restore public lands or to offset the impacts of a particular action.” Restoration leases will allow organization to restore habitats while mitigation leases will offer a way to compensate for environmental impacts caused by actions such as development projects. The BLM will have discretionary authority to grant these leases. The factsheet illustrates potential applications through examples, like mitigating the impact of a solar energy project on wilderness areas or restoring critical mule deer habitats. Conservation districts and state agencies are eligible to hold these leases to ensure minimal disruption to recreational activities.



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.

May 24, 2024, 12:00 – 1:00 pm (ET). Understanding the Basics of Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Area Security Law. (Register)

June 28, 2024, 12:00 – 1:00 pm (ET). Understanding the Basics of the Clean Water Act & Agriculture. (Register)

Follow us on Twitter @AgShaleLaw—Top #ShaleLaw HotLinks 

AI could drive a natural gas boom as power companies face surging electricity demand (CNBC)

Exxon Shale Exec Details Plans for Pioneer’s Acreage, 4-mile Laterals (Hart Energy)

LNG futures traded volumes rise in April ahead of summer season (S&P Global)

Pennsylvania’s pitch to Europe: ‘We’re open for energy business’ (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Self-drilling oil wells to beat self-driving cars to market, SLB vice president says (Reuters)

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

Oil & Gas Law & Policy Resources:

Bloomberg, Guyana Takes Exxon to Court Over Misstated Value of Equipment (May 3, 2024)

Sartain, Texas Court Rules in Suit Over Minerals in Another State (May 3, 2024)

McFarland, What Constitutes Production in “Paying Quantities”? (May 3, 2024)

Kannenberg, The European Commission’s industrial carbon management strategy: ambitious and risky plans to achieve net-zero (May 8, 2024)

Energy Connects, Shell to sell interest in Singapore Energy and Chemicals Park to CAPGC (May 8, 2024)

Energy Connects, Ten-year production outlook for Canadian oil sands raised again by S&P Global (May 10, 2024)



DOE Releases Final Interpretive Guidance on the Definition of Foreign Entity of Concern (May 3, 2024)

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Initial List of High-Priority Areas for Accelerated Transmission Expansion (May 8, 2024)

Joint Statement Between the Department of Energy of the United States of America and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of the Republic of Türkiye on the Establishment of the United States-Türkiye Energy and Climate Dialogue (May 8, 2024)

G7 Energy Ministers Achieve Breakthroughs on Unabated Coal Phaseout, Global Energy Storage, and Phasing Out Harmful Non-CO2 Pollutants (May 9, 2024)

DOE Appoints Inaugural Board of Directors for Groundbreaking New Foundation (May 9, 2024)


EPA, FDA and USDA Issues Updates to the Joint Regulatory Plan for Biotechnology (May 8, 2024)

EPA Announces ENERGY STAR® NextGen™ Certification for New Homes and Apartments (May 7, 2024)

EPA Announces $9M in Grants Available for Tribes and Eligible US Territories to Replace Diesel Equipment and Reduce Harmful Emissions (May 7, 2024)

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Final Rule to Cut Methane Emissions, Strengthen and Update Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting for the Oil and Gas Sector (May 6, 2024)

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $3 Billion for Lead Pipe Replacement to Advance Safe Drinking Water as Part of Investing in America Agenda (May 2, 2024)

FEDERAL EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Federal Register May 3 — May 10, 2024)

Environmental Protection Agency

89 FR 39798: Rule: “New Source Performance Standards for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From New, Modified, and Reconstructed Fossil Fuel-Fired Electric Generating Units; Emission Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Existing Fossil Fuel-Fired Electric Generating Units; and Repeal of the Affordable Clean Energy Rule” (May 9, 2024)

89 FR 40198: Rule: “Supplemental Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category” (May 9, 2024)

89 FR 38950: Rule: “Hazardous and Solid Waste Management System: Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals From Electric Utilities; Legacy CCR Surface Impoundments” (May 8, 2024)

89 FR 39124: Rule: “Designation of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid (PFOS) as CERCLA Hazardous Substances” (May 8, 2024)

89 FR 39304: Rule: “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Gasoline Distribution Technology Reviews and New Source Performance Standards Review for Bulk Gasoline Terminals” (May 8, 2024)

89 FR 38508: Rule: “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Coal- and Oil-Fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units Review of the Residual Risk and Technology Review” (May 7, 2024)

89 FR 36729: Proposed Rule, Comments Close 6/3/24: “California Air Plan Revisions; California Air Resources Board and Local California Air Districts; Crude Oil and Natural Gas Facilities” (May 3, 2024)

89 FR 36870: Proposed Rule, Comments Close 7/2/24: “Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR): Regulations Related to Project Emissions Accounting” (May 3, 2024)

Energy Department

89 FR 37778: Rule: “Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Consumer Water Heaters” (May 6, 2024)

Land Management Bureau

89 FR 38712: Rule: “Management and Protection of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska” (May 7, 2024)

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

89 FR 40535: Notice, Comments Close 7/9/24: “Hazardous Materials: Information Collection Activities” (May 10, 2024)

Other Agencies

89 FR 38180: Notice: “Marine Mammals; Letters of Authorization To Take Pacific Walruses, Polar Bears, and Northern Sea Otters in Alaska, in 2023” (May 7, 2024)



DEP To Host Public Hearing for Schuylkill County Landfill Permit Renewal Application (May 10, 2024)

PENNSYLVANIA EXECUTIVE AGENCIES (Pa. Bulletin Vol. 54, No. 19 – May 11, 2024)

Department of Environmental Protection

54 Pa.B.2588: Notices: “Rates to be Used for Calculating Long-Term Operation and Maintenance Cost Bonds for Water Supply Replacement—Mining Operations”

Pennsylvania Legislature

HB 1615 “An Act providing for minimum energy and water efficiency standards for certain products sold in this Commonwealth; imposing penalties; and making repeals.” Third consideration and final passage, May 7, 2024 (102-99) [House] (May 7, 2024)

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