Friday, January 17, 2014 10:52 am by Lowell Rothschild
Spurred on by Congress, on Monday, the Federal Highway and Transit Administrations adopted a categorical exclusion which may spare some projects a detailed review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Specifically, projects that receive less than $5,000,000 in federal funding will be presumed not to have to undertake any NEPA review at all.
The fact that there would be some type of CatEx along this line was never in doubt – in July 2012, Congress included a provision in Section 1317 of the highway bill (called “MAP-21”) specifically ordering DOT to (1) designate a CatEx for any project that receives less than $5 million in federal funding and (2) promulgate a rule to carry out the CatEx. The question was how DOT would implement this mandate: Would any project whatsoever that received less than $5 million be excluded, even if DOT had other major decisions to make on the project – decisions that would normally require NEPA review? (more…)
Category: Environmental, EPAct 2005, National Energy Law
Friday, January 10, 2014 2:52 pm by Michael Weller and Jason Hutt
Region 9 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday made available the finalized National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit applicable to discharges from oil and gas exploration facilities offshore Southern California. NPDES General Permit No. CAG280000 (2014 NPDES General Permit), issued under provisions of the Clean Water Act, authorizes discharges from exploration, development and production facilities located offshore of Southern California in accordance with specified effluent limitations, monitoring and reporting requirements and various other conditions.
The final 2014 NPDES General Permit includes certain new requirements that EPA indicates were added to address offshore hydraulic fracturing operations, including increases in the monitoring requirements associated with produced water discharges and new inventory and reporting requirements. (more…)
Category: Enforcement, Environmental, National Energy Law, Offshore, Uncategorized, Upstream Energy
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
Friday, October 11, 2013 1:39 pm by Elisabeth Drabkin
Yesterday, after many weeks of speculation, the Commission issued an order extending the filing deadline of the 2013 Q3 Electric Quarterly Reports (EQRs) filings from October 31 to “a date to be determined.” This extension follows a series of similar delays and significant technical issues associated with the revised EQR filing requirements put in place by Order Nos. 768, 768-A, and 770.
As part of the preparation for the new filing requirements, FERC had made available to the public an EQR Sandbox Electronic Test Site (Sandbox) that was meant to be a testing platform to help users acclimate to and prepare for the new filing requirements and system. The Sandbox was made available on July 12 and was meant to be available until September 1. Following the testing period, the Sandbox would be taken offline to prepare it to go live well in advance of the original October 31 filing deadline. (more…)
Category: Electric, FERC, National Energy Law
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 11:12 am by Charles.Nixon and Sandra Snyder
Yesterday, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register final amendments to sections of its 2012 New Source Performance Standard OOOO (NSPS OOOO) applicable to storage vessels used in the production, processing, transmission and storage of oil and natural gas. 78 Fed. Reg. 58415. Although the amendments contain a number of helpful changes sought by industry, they also include fast-approaching deadlines for operators of Class I vessels (see below) to test their VOC emissions (October 15, 2013) and report the results to EPA (January 15, 2014). (more…)
Category: Air Quality/Climate Change, Enforcement, Environmental, National Energy Law, Natural Gas/LNG, Upstream Energy
Thursday, September 12, 2013 8:23 am by Kirstin Gibbs and Ty Johnson
On September 11, 2013, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) issued an order authorizing Dominion Cove Point, LNG, LP (“Cove Point”) to export to non-Free Trade Agreement (“FTA”) countries up to 0.77 Bcf/day of domestically produced liquefied natural gas. This is the fourth order authorizing non-FTA LNG exports, coming after similar orders for Sabine Pass, Freeport, and Lake Charles. The Cove Point order brings the cumulative total of authorized LNG exports up to 6.37 Bcf/day, which is slightly greater than the “low” export case evaluated in the DOE-commissioned LNG Export Study that evaluated the economic impacts of exporting domestic LNG.
While DOE has suggested it would issue orders every six to eight weeks, the Cove Point order comes after just five weeks since the Lake Charles order (August 7, 2013). It’s unclear if DOE is hastening its pace, but a reduced delay between orders is likely to please Senator Murkowski, who has asked DOE to expedite the approvals. Still, even at the quicker pace it could take DOE over two years to process the remaining 20 pending applications, assuming DOE does not pause its review of the applications. (more…)
Category: DOE, National Energy Law, Natural Gas/LNG