On September 11, 2013, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) issued an order conditionally granting Dominion Cove Point LNG, LP (DCP) long-term, multi-contract authorization to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) by vessel from the Cove Point LNG Terminal in Calvert County, Maryland to non-Free Trade Agreement (non-FTA) countries (Cove Point Order). DCP is the fourth company to receive conditional authorization from the DOE to export LNG to non-FTA countries and the third company to receive such authorization in the past four months. (more…)
WE KNOW ENERGY®
Michael Weller and Heather Corken
The New York State Court of Appeals has announced that it will hear a challenge to municipal bans on hydraulic fracturing operations in two separate cases. The announcement comes three months after a ruling issued by a midlevel appellate court in which a four-judge panel unanimously held that municipalities can effectively “zone out” oil and gas operations by passing zoning ordinances and that the state’s Oil Gas and Solution Mining Law (OGSML) cannot be invoked to nullify such local bans. (more…)
This week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) announced that it is one step closer to promulgating new regulations applicable to surface operations at oil and gas well sites. Yet one more step in the implementation of 2012’s Act 13, the current draft regulatory proposal focuses on enhancing consideration of impacts to public resources, secondary containment, spill prevention and management, waste management, and reclamation. Once the Attorney General’s Office completes its review of the proposed regulations this fall, a 60-day public comment period will open. (more…)
August has been a busy month for issues related to the Renewable Fuels Standard (“RFS”).
On August 6, EPA denied the petitions for reconsideration filed by the American Petroleum Institute (“API”) and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (“AFPM”) regarding the 2013 Biomass-Based Diesel Renewable Fuel Volume. EPA sent a letter to AFPM and another to API before publishing notice of this decision in the Federal Register on August 14. As EPA’s technical response memo explains, EPA believes that there is no need to reconsider the applicable volume of biomass-based diesel for 2013 because the issues raised by API and AFPM could have been raised during the comment period and the issues raised do not provide substantial support for revising the standard. In particular, EPA explained that there is no statutory prohibition to increasing the biomass-based diesel requirement over the 1.0 billion gallon standard even that will result in higher prices. EPA disregarded two other arguments by explaining that when the Agency set the 2013 standard, it was aware of and considered both the 2012 drought and the RIN fraud issue. (more…)
On August 5, 2013, EPA released a prepublication copy of amendments to the oil and gas new source performance standards, 40 C.F.R. Part 60 (“the oil and gas NSPS”). The amendments primarily modify the requirements pertaining to volatile organic compound (“VOC”) emissions from storage tanks. EPA modified these requirements to respond to issues raised in petitions for reconsideration of the 2012 oil and gas NSPS, published in 77 Fed. Reg. 49,490 (Aug. 16, 2012). Interested parties may challenge these new requirements by filing a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit within 60 days of publication of the rule in the Federal Register.
The amendments clarify that the oil and gas NSPS applies to vessels at affected facilities – meaning those vessels that hold crude oil, condensate, hydrocarbon intermediates or produced water and that have a potential to emit (“PTE”) emissions of 6 tons per year or more of VOCs. Only tanks of a certain age must comply with the oil and gas NSPS. (more…)
David Poe and Lowell Rothschild
Early Friday evening, President Obama signed into law two bills which aim to speed the licensing and environmental approval of low-impact hydropower projects. One bill is focused on projects under 5 megawatts constructed in manmade conduits - tunnels, canals, pipelines, aqueducts, flumes, ditches, or similar water conveyances – operated for the distribution of water for agricultural, municipal, or industrial consumption. These facilities no longer require FERC licensing, and therefore should be able to move forward much more expeditiously. Another provision allows slightly larger facilities – those with a capacity up to 10 kilowatts – to also be exempted from FERC licensing requirements by FERC Rule or Order. The last major provision of this bill requires FERC to examine the potential of issuing in only 2 years (including prefiling) all future licenses for hydropower development at nonpowered dams and closed loop pumped storage projects. The bill authorizes pilot projects and workshops to assist in the development of such a two-year process. The second bill stresses the need for streamlining the environmental review (essentially NEPA) process, ordering the Bureau of Reclamation to categorically exclude from the NEPA process such small conduit projects. (more…)