On September 11, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released two private letter rulings (PLRs) addressing MLP qualifying income. These are the first PLRs relating to MLP qualifying income to be released since the issuance of the proposed regulations under Section 7704(d)(1)(E) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) on May 5, 2015, and the lifting of the approximately year-long “pause” on PLRs in this area. (more…)
WE KNOW ENERGY®
Gregory Bopp, Robert Jacobson, Elizabeth Behncke and Yaniv Maman
Darren Spalding and Eimear Murphy
Despite facing opposition on numerous fronts, the development of a regulatory regime to promote the exploration of shale gas in the UK has continued apace following David Cameron’s comments earlier this year that the UK was “going all out for shale”.[i] The UK government has reiterated the national need to develop the UK’s shale gas resources to improve the country’s energy security and transition to a low-carbon economy.
For over a decade, the UK has been a net importer of gas following declining levels of production from the UK’s North Sea’s gasfields. Imports of gas accounted for 45% of the UK’s supply last year.[ii] The Department of Energy and Climate Change (“DECC”) predicts that, without any contribution from shale gas, net imports of gas could increase to 75% by 2030.[iii] Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, considers the development of the UK’s shale resources as an essential component of the UK’s energy mix going forward and has pledged to “deliver shale”. (more…)
As a first step toward curbing methane emissions from existing sources, EPA has released a proposed framework for the Natural Gas Star Methane Challenge Program. EPA is scheduled to propose regulations this summer to reduce methane emissions from new and modified sources. Therefore, any sources that exist before the date EPA proposes those regulations would not be required to reduce their methane emissions until EPA adopts methane regulations for existing sources. In order to try to reduce methane emissions from existing sources in the interim, EPA will be looking to industry to voluntarily reduce methane emissions by participating in the Natural Gas Star Methane Challenge Program. (more…)
Jason Hutt, Heather Palmer and Michael Weller
The Bureau of Land Management’s (“BLM’s”) Hydraulic Fracturing Rule has been stayed until at least September 2015. BLM finalized the rule on March 20, 2015 for application on federal and Indian lands, three years after its initial proposal. However, on June 23, 2015 (the eve of the rule’s effective date), a federal judge in Wyoming stayed implementation of the rule siding with several industry group and state petitioners that had filed lawsuits and sought an injunction. As deadlines have now slipped, based on the current schedule, Judge Scott W. Skavdahl of the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming is not expected to make a final decision on the BLM Rule until September 2015. (more…)
Heather Palmer and Michael Weller
Over the past few years, California has taken strides to update the state’s oil and gas regulatory program to keep pace with new technological advances in resource extraction, such as hydraulic fracturing. One significant milestone was the passage of SB 4 in September 2013, a bill that demonstrated how California would be taking a different approach to hydraulic fracturing and unconventional shale gas development as compared to the approach taken by the State of New York.
While New York has opted for an outright ban on hydraulic fracturing in the state, California’s SB 4 established interim regulations and laid out plans for a thorough scientific and environmental review of hydraulic fracturing, leading up to the promulgation of permanent regulations, which went into effect on July 1, 2015. (more…)
A permit system may finally arrive for the Migratory Bird Treaty Act – New Opportunities and ResponsibilitiesWednesday, May 27, 2015 5:06 pm by Lowell Rothschild
For years, Federal Courts have held that individuals can be held criminally liable under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) for the death of birds regardless of whether they intended to harm them. While several courts have recently called into question this precedent, yesterday, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) started a process that could help clarify liability under the Act. However, with this clarity will come additional regulatory obligations and the creation of a bright line between compliance and noncompliance.
Like the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the MBTA imposes criminal liability for harming specifically-identified birds. Unlike the ESA, however, the MBTA does not currently have an extensive permitting system. As a result, most companies are unable to proactively ensure compliance with the MBTA unless they can avoid harming any migratory birds during their operations – and complete avoidance is extremely difficult when engaging in many industrial activities of any scale. Thus, entities operating wind energy, communication towers, oil and gas production, and electrical transmission facilities, for example, have generally adopted best management practices and hoped that their proactive efforts would result in lenient treatment by FWS if and when their operations accidentally harm migratory birds. (more…)