Methane ImageThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has asked a federal appellate court to hold in abeyance an ongoing legal challenge to Obama-era methane emissions standards for new and modified sources in the oil and gas sector as EPA considers whether to change the standards or abandon them altogether. (Am. Petroleum Inst. v. EPA, D.C. Cir., 13-1108). The methane rule, finalized in 2016, established New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for methane emissions at new, modified and reconstructed oil and gas wells.  Dozens of states and industry groups filed legal challenges Continue Reading EPA Asks Court to Halt Methane Suit

OK KS Sierra ClubYesterday, the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma issued an order granting the motions to dismiss of three oil and gas operator defendants, Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy, and New Dominion, in an action brought by the Sierra Club alleging that the operators’ activities “contributed, and continues to contribute, to an increase in earthquakes throughout the State of Oklahoma and in southern Kansas.”
Continue Reading Earthquake Lawsuit Rocked By Burford Abstention

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Fulfilling repeated campaign pledges to roll back the Obama administration’s climate change initiatives, President Trump signed a sweeping executive order yesterday targeting key Obama-era regulations, including the Clean Power Plan and emission standards for the oil and gas industry. The executive order states that it is in the interest of the nation to promote development of energy resources “while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation.” The multi-faceted approach taken by the order makes it clear that this Administration views any regulation of climate change or carbon pollution as “unnecessary.”  Continue Reading Trump’s Executive Order Takes a Multi-Faceted Approach to Eliminating Climate Change Regulation

 

In a four-part series recently published in Law360, Husch Blackwell’s energy regulatory group analyzed the significant aspects of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) most recent installment of the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER). The first article focused on the QER’s discussion of the critical role that the nation’s electricity industry plays in supporting the country’s economy and national security.  The second installment examined the QER’s emphasis on grid security. The third focused on Continue Reading Dissecting DOE’s Recent Quadrennial Energy Review

Flag of Colorado waving.Today, the Colorado Court of Appeals held that the Denver district court erred when it dismissed the suit of Colorado youth who challenged the dismissal by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (the “COGCC”) of their rulemaking petition.  Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 2017COA37 (March 23, 2017).  The district court had affirmed the COGCC’s dismissal concluding that the COGCC lacked the authority to consider a proposed rule that would require the COGCC to adjust the balance between the development of oil and gas resources and the protection of public health, safety, and welfare under the Oil and Gas Conservation Act (the “Act”).

The court of appeals concluded Continue Reading Kids’ Climate Suit Can Move Forward in Colorado State Court

Seal_of_the_United_States_Securities_and_Exchange_Commission.svgThe Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) requires disclosure relating to social and environmental performance if the information would be “material” to the reasonable investor. Climate change issues may need to be disclosed with respect to the costs of environmental compliance, material legal proceedings, risk factors, management’s discussion and analysis of financial conditions and results of operations, and physical impacts of climate change. But even broader disclosure on environmental, social, employee, and human rights issues is required by pending European Union legislation and various sustainability reporting, standards, and rating organizations like the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board.

The SEC has sought comments on which sustainability and public policy issues are important to informed voting decisions, whether to require line-item disclosures on such issues, and which sustainability reporting frameworks to consider in developing additional requirements. SEC appears likely to expand reporting beyond what is required by current guidance, and the scope of its expansion could have a significant impact on publicly-traded companies’ sustainability reporting practices. Watch here for updates on the release of new SEC guidance or regulations regarding environmental, social, and governance disclosures.

Flag_of_CaliforniaCalifornia’s Proposition 65, also called the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, requires businesses to notify Californians about significant amounts of chemicals in the consumer products they purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment. Under recent changes to the law, companies in the oilfield business and gasoline service business will need to make warning signs more specific in order to Continue Reading Changes to California’s Prop 65 Warning Requirements to Impact Energy Industry

gravel pit with an industrial gravel sorter machinery with beautiful sunburst color effectThe United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) issued a proposed rule on December 1, 2016 requiring hardrock mines to provide financial assurance demonstrating they are able to fund the costs associated with the future cleanup of the mines under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the federal statute designed to address releases of hazardous substances and the cleanup of hazardous waste sites nationwide. The new regulations, if finalized by the stated deadline of December 1, 2017, would add an additional
Continue Reading New Financial Responsibility Requirements on the Horizon for the Hardrock Mining Industry

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Robert Horn
Adam Sachs
Adam Sachs

During his confirmation hearing to become Secretary of Energy, former Texas Governor Rick Perry sensibly walked back his 2011 recommendation that the Department of Energy (DOE) be eliminated. After a few weeks on the job, it is now apparent that the secretary not only thinks the DOE should continue to exist but recognizes it’s an essential element of our national security.

President Trump’s inaugural address called for an “America First Energy Plan.”  Although admittedly short on details, the Trump plan seems to Continue Reading Around the Horn: Perry, Policy & Politics

No RegulationsAs we reported in a previous blog post, President Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus issued a memorandum entitled “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review” to all federal executive departments and agencies implementing a regulatory freeze on new and pending regulations.  This post provides some further information and insight into the freeze and the specific impacts it has had and will have on final and proposed environmental, health, safety, and pipeline regulations.

Technically speaking, the directive is not an executive order and does not have the effect of law.  Thus, federal agencies are left with considerable discretion regarding how to implement it.  The directive was issued with the intent of Continue Reading Trump Administration’s Regulatory Freeze Impacts Environmental, Health, Safety, and Pipeline Regulations