Monday, December 30, 2013 12:47 pm by Grant MacIntyre and Tim Wilkins
In a rule published on December 30, 2013 and effective immediately upon publication, EPA formally adopts a new standard for conducting All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) at potentially contaminated sites. 78 Fed. Reg. 79319.
The AAI rule outlines steps for potential property purchasers to take to claim a limitation on CERCLA liability connected to purchased property. 40 CFR Part 312. EPA allows purchasers to use the applicable ASTM standard for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments to satisfy their obligations under the AAI rule. In this rule, EPA incorporates new ASTM International Standard ASTM E1527-13 into the AAI rule. This standard updates several procedures associated with conducting environmental site assessments (ESAs). (more…)
Category: Enforcement, Environmental
Friday, December 27, 2013 9:24 am by Darren Spalding and Adam Waszkiewicz
The UK is continuing to edge closer to realising the potential of its domestic shale gas resources. In mid-December 2013, the UK government published a report, known as the Strategic Environmental Assessment for Further Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing (the “SEA”), as part of the UK’s procedure for assessing the environmental effects of future onshore oil and gas licensing. The SEA was commissioned by the UK government and carried out in preparation for the next licensing round for onshore oil and gas exploration and production (being the 14th such round) in the UK under a “Draft Licensing Plan.” Pursuant to the Draft Licensing Plan, the UK government is considering a total area of 100,000 square kilometres for future licensing. The SEA sets out the potential environmental and economic effects of further onshore oil and gas exploration and production activity in the UK, including shale oil and gas production, by comparing a “low activity” and a “high activity” scenario.
The “high activity scenario” assumes that a considerable amount of shale gas (4.32 to 8.64 trillion cubic feet) would be produced during the 2020s; a level of production which would satisfy around 25% of the UK’s estimated demand for natural gas for the decade. Under this scenario, up to 2,880 wells would be drilled each year and the SEA envisages “likely significant positive effects” for the economy, jobs and communities, with boons for both employment (an estimated 16,000-32,000 full-time jobs may be created, representing an increase of 3.5 to 7% in employment supported by the UK oil and gas sector) and local economies (which will benefit from initial contributions of £100,000 per fracking site and a further 1% of the revenue from each well over its lifetime, meaning a total of £1 billion could be paid out to local communities across the UK). (more…)
Category: Environmental, European Energy Law, Natural Gas/LNG, Shale Development, Upstream Energy
Friday, November 15, 2013 12:50 pm by Heather Palmer, Jason Hutt and Michael Weller
Today, the California Department of Conservation (“DOC”) released proposed regulations applicable to oil and gas well stimulation activities in the state. This follows up on the passage of SB 4 back on September 20, 2013, which established the first set of requirements specifically associated with hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation techniques. Previously, in December 2012, the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) released a pre-rulemaking “discussion draft” of regulations applicable to hydraulic fracturing. However, that discussion draft did not trigger the formal rulemaking process and simply acted as a means of engaging stakeholders in the process early on. DOGGR withdrew the discussion draft following the passage of SB 4. (more…)
Category: Environmental, Shale Development
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 4:02 pm by Lowell Rothschild and Matthew Haynie
Rule Could Have Significant Impact on Infrastructure, Energy and Land Development
On September 18, we blogged about the pending release of a draft rule which would establish the scope of waters subject to the federal Clean Water Act – a rule which could have significant impacts on entities engaged in infrastructure or other land development activities, such as upstream and midstream oil and gas development, highway projects and real estate developers. While still not yet formally proposed, a leaked version of the draft rule has surfaced, providing insight on what the US Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed rule will eventually look like. (more…)
Category: Courts, Enforcement, Environmental, National Energy Law, Upstream Energy
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 9:46 am by Alastair Young, Darren Spalding, Jason Hutt and Olga Galin
On 9 October 2013, the European Parliament narrowly voted in favour of an amendment to the EU’s Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (EIA Directive) which would require environmental impact assessments (EIAs) to be performed for hydraulic fracturing for coal bed methane, and in shale and formations with shale-like permeability and porosity. If the amendment becomes law, the amended EIA Directive would require all private and public shale gas and many other unconventional exploration projects involving hydraulic fracturing in the EU to undertake an EIA.
The effect of this change would be to remove the discretion that EU Member States currently have as to whether or not to require a full EIA as part of the permitting process for certain projects. (more…)
Category: Environmental, European Energy Law, Shale Development
Thursday, October 10, 2013 10:57 am by Charles Nixon and Tim Wilkins
On October 4th, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) released a preliminary draft of a proposal to establish greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting regulations for the state of Texas. This action kicks off what is likely to be a lively discussion between stakeholders and regulators over the design of Texas’s GHG permitting program. But it represents a first step toward an important change from the status quo.
For almost three years now, Texas companies have been subject to two different permitting authorities for air permits: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues GHG permits under a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP), while TCEQ issues permits for all other regulated pollutants. The dual permitting scheme has not been a model of efficiency. (more…)
Category: Air Quality/Climate Change, Environmental, Regional Energy Law