Energy & Environmental Law Blog

Energy & Environmental Law Blog

Analyzing the critical energy and environmental issues of the day

Category Archives: Oil & Gas

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SCOTUS, Denying Cert, Subjects Exxon to Broad Massachusetts Climate Investigation

Posted in Climate Change, Oil & Gas
Yesterday, by refusing to hear an appeal from Exxon Mobil (see docket), the U.S. Supreme Court declined to protect the oil giant from handing over decades of climate change-related documents to the Massachusetts Attorney General. Back in 2015, InsideClimate News and the L.A. Times each ran multiple stories digging into Exxon’s knowledge of climate science… Continue Reading

$13mm NRD Settlement in 2003 Oil Spill Illustrates Long Tail on OPA Natural Resource Damage Claims

Posted in Litigation, Natural Resources, Oil & Gas, Trump Track
On October 17, 2017, the U.S. and the States of Rhode Island and Massachusetts lodged what was acknowledged as a “unique” settlement with a tug boat owner and operator for natural resource damages resulting from a 2003 marine oil spill. In U.S. v. Bouchard Transportation Company, the defendants had earlier settled other federal, state and… Continue Reading

Securing New Pipeline Capacity in Today’s Turbulent Gas Market: Best Practices and Things to Know

Posted in FERC, Oil & Gas
With the rapid growth of natural gas production from shale plays and growing demand due to low gas prices, pipeline companies have been scrambling to expand and reconfigure their systems to serve the needs of a changing gas marketplace.  Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rules generally govern the commercial terms pipelines can offer prospective capacity… Continue Reading

Possible Renewable Identification Number Price Spike Due to Proposed EPA Compliance Deadline Causes Biofuel Industry Concern

Posted in EPA, Oil & Gas, Renewables, Rulemakings
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets the annual percentage standards for ethanol, cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuels that apply to all gasoline and diesel produced or imported each year.   EPA blending requirements for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to date have been reduced to address the “blend wall” – the… Continue Reading

FERC Provides Important Guidance Regarding Confidentiality Agreements and “Duty to Support” Clauses

Posted in Federal, FERC, Oil & Gas, Rulemakings
Yesterday, I wrote a blog post describing a FERC order that, for the first time ever, would have allowed an interstate oil pipeline to grant preferential rates and capacity rights to shippers making volume commitments through an open season process conducted outside the context of a pipeline project.  FERC’s order is also noteworthy for the general… Continue Reading

FERC Rejects Preferential Rates and Capacity Rights for Committed Shippers on Pre-Existing Oil Pipeline Capacity

Posted in Federal, FERC, Oil & Gas, Rulemakings
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order on March 20, 2014, rejecting Colonial Pipeline Company’s (Colonial) petition for a declaratory order (PDO) that, for the first time ever, would have allowed an interstate oil pipeline to grant preferential rates and capacity rights to shippers making volume commitments through an open season process conducted outside… Continue Reading

California Low Carbon Fuel Standards Survive Ninth Circuit Petition for Rehearing

Posted in California, Climate Change, Environmental Quality, Natural Resources, Oil & Gas, Rulemakings
On January 22nd, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined petitions to reconsider their decision upholding of enforceability of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).  The petitions were spearheaded by various trade groups and energy groups, including the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, who argued that the LCFS’s strict… Continue Reading

Those Dam Polluters!

Posted in Electric Power, Environmental Quality, Health and Safety, Natural Resources, Northwest, Oil & Gas, Water Law
The Columbia and Snake River federal network of dams, and the abundance of low cost electricity it produces, has long been the cornerstone of the Pacific Northwest manufacturing economy.  It has also supported another industry—the legions of lawyers fighting over the environmental effects.  The latest iteration is an attack brought by Columbia Riverkeepers against the… Continue Reading

Fish and Wildlife Service says No to Alaska’s request for oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Posted in Federal, Land Use, Natural Resources, Northwest, Oil & Gas
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (“ANWR”) is in the news again.  This refuge, set in the midst of some of the nation’s richest petroleum deposits, has been a source of contention and controversy since the passage of the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act (“ANILCA”) in 1980.  That Act greatly expanded the size of ANWR,… Continue Reading

5th Circuit Evaluates Application of Civil Penalty Factors for Oil Spills under the Clean Water Act, Holds Economic Benefit is Central Factor

Posted in Federal, Health and Safety, Natural Resources, Oil & Gas
By Gerald George On an appeal of a penalty determination in the first oil spill case to be tried under the civil penalty provisions enacted after the Exxon Valdez catastrophe in the Oil Pollution Act of 1991,[1] the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case for reconsideration of the penalty, despite holding… Continue Reading

FERC Lays Groundwork for Open Communication Between Natural Gas and Electric Industries

Posted in Electric Power, Federal, FERC, Oil & Gas
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued on July 18, 2013, is proposing to facilitate increased coordination between electric transmission operators and natural gas pipelines. FERC is proposing to amend its regulations to provide explicit authority for interstate natural gas pipelines and electric transmission system operators to share non-public operational information… Continue Reading

BSEE and Coast Guard Sign Memorandum of Agreement for Regulating Mobile Offshore Drilling Units

Posted in Environmental Quality, Federal, Health and Safety, Oil & Gas
A recent advisory from DWT partners Glenn Benson and Barbara Jost: On June 4, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) and the U.S. Coast Guard signed a Memorandum of Agreement regarding division of lead agency responsibilities between the two agencies for regulation, inspection, and oversight of systems… Continue Reading

BLM Revises Proposed Rule on Hydraulic Fracturing

Posted in Environmental Quality, Federal, Health and Safety, Land Use, Natural Resources, Oil & Gas, Water Law
A recent advisory from DWT partners Glenn Benson and Barbara Jost: On May 16, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) issued a revised proposed rule regarding hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands for oil and gas production. In response to the more than 177,000 public comments submitted in… Continue Reading

Regulatory Issues Cause ConocoPhillips to Join Shell Oil in Suspending its Drilling Program in Arctic Waters off Alaska

Posted in Northwest, Oil & Gas
Today, ConocoPhillips announced that it is suspending its drilling program in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska for 2014, due to uncertainty regarding the changing regulatory requirements. “While we are confident in our own expertise and ability to safely conduct offshore Arctic operations, we believe that more time is needed to ensure… Continue Reading

The Alaska Constitution and Alaska Oil and Gas Projects

Posted in Land Use, Northwest, Oil & Gas
In the March 29th decision of Sullivan v. Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), the Supreme Court of Alaska held that the Alaska Constitution requires only one “best interest finding” (that an oil or gas project is in the state’s best interest) to be made before a lease is issued, though subsequent permitting decisions… Continue Reading

Recent Energy and Environmental Developments in Alaska

Posted in ESA, Oil & Gas, Water Law
From our Anchorage office, some recent developments in Alaska of note: Polar bears.  Comments are being taken on a proposed special rule and draft environmental assessment by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  When the polar bear was listed as a threatened species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed… Continue Reading

Alaska Natural Gas Developments

Posted in Oil & Gas
Two important announcements on March 30, 2012 from the State of Alaska and major North Slope producers have brightened the prospects for natural gas development in northern Alaska and the possibility of an in-state pipeline.  First, the State of Alaska announced a settlement of the ongoing lawsuit stemming from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources… Continue Reading