Monday, December 2, 2013 3:16 pm by Charles Nixon, John Riley and Tim Wilkins
As we discussed in an October post, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has proposed rules to create a greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting program for the state of Texas and take over permitting authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Because it hopes to make the transition as quickly as possible, TCEQ is using a streamlined public participation process, which is soon coming to an end. At 2:00 pm on December 5th, TCEQ will hold its only public hearing on the proposal (see notice here). TCEQ will then continue to accept written comments on the rules through December 9th.
If your company would like to see a change to—or particularly supports—some aspect of the proposed rules, it is important to participate in the hearing or submit written comments before the deadline. It is not clear whether these proposed rules will be controversial, but it is possible, and participating during the comment period can help strengthen one’s position before the Commission or a court, should a challenge be brought. If you have any questions about attending the hearing or submitting questions or comments, please feel free to contact any of our Environmental Section members in the Austin office. We will be attending and are happy to assist any way we can.
Category: Air Quality/Climate Change, Natural Gas/LNG, Power, Regional Energy Law
Monday, September 30, 2013 4:13 pm by Austin Lee and Chris Miller
On January 7, 2013, the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas (Houston) (the “Court”) held that under Texas law the implied surface easement inherent in the mineral estate limited the mineral estate owner’s right to use a surface road on a pooled tract to benefit the production from the pooled unit, subject to the accommodation doctrine, to only instances in which such use benefited wells that produced from beneath the surface tract that such road crossed . In Key Operating & Equipment, Inc. v. Will Hegar and Loree Hegar, (2013 WL 103633 (Tex.App.-Hous. (1 Dist.))) (hereinafter “Key Operating”), the Court affirmed the trial court’s issuance of a permanent injunction against Key Operating & Equipment, Inc.’s (“Key”) use of a surface road across the Hegar family’s (“Hegar”) surface estate because the pooled unit’s production did not include any production from the portion of the pooled mineral estate beneath the Hegar’s surface estate.
Key’s operations included two neighboring tracts of land referred to as the Rosenbaum-Curbo tract and the Richardson tract. In 1994, Key constructed a road across the Curbo tract (a subpart of the Rosenbaum-Curbo tract) that was utilized to service wells on both the Curbo and Richardson tracts. In 2000, Key’s lease on the Rosenbaum-Curbo tract terminated upon the cessation of production from the well on the Curbo tract. Key’s owners subsequently acquired a 1/16th interest in the Curbo tract mineral estate and leased their interest to Key. Later that year, Key pooled its mineral interests in the Richardson and Curbo tracts and Key produced from the pooled unit through wells located on the Richardson tract that it accessed via the road on the Curbo tract. In 2002, Hegar (the surface owner at issue in this case) purchased the surface estate and a 1/4th mineral interest in the Curbo tract. In 2007, Hegar sued Key for trespass and sought a permanent injunction against Defendant’s use of the road after a significant increase in Key’s use of the road. (more…)
Category: Courts, Natural Gas/LNG, Regional Energy Law, Upstream Energy
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
Monday, September 16, 2013 11:45 am by Bryan Loocke and Stephen Boone
On September 6, 2013, the Texas Supreme Court (the “Court”) declined to clarify whether the statutory condemnation system set forth in the Texas Property Code (specifically, the interpretation of Tex. Gov’t Code §21.021) requires a court to make a “preliminary finding” of common carrier status before awarding temporary possession to a pipeline company. The court’s refusal to weigh in on the dispute represents a missed opportunity to clarify the statutory framework at a time of increasing pipeline projects fueled by the continued expansion of oil and gas drilling activity in Texas.
Texas Rice Land Partners, L.P., James E. Holland and David C. Holland (collectively, “TRL”) own farmland in Jefferson County, Texas. In re Texas Rice Land Partners, Ltd., 402 S.W.3d 334, 336 Tex. App.—Beaumont 2013. TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. (“TransCanada”) is the owner and operator of the U.S. portion of the planned 2,151 mile crude petroleum Keystone Pipeline System designed to bring Canadian oil sands to Mid-West and Gulf Coast refineries. TransCanada filed a petition for condemnation for an easement across TRL’s farmland after unsuccessful negotiations. The trial court issued TransCanada’s requested writ of possession and awarded TRL $20,808 as compensation for the easement. (more…)
Category: Courts, Natural Gas/LNG, Regional Energy Law, Upstream Energy
Friday, September 13, 2013 1:21 pm by Heather Corken
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…)
Category: DOE, Environmental, FERC, Natural Gas/LNG, Shale Development
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