The Trump Administration’s Impact On Oil and Gas Activities

The Trump Administration has made it clear that it seeks to unleash the potential of American-produced energy. Towards that end, it has taken actions on a variety of fronts to encourage production of oil and gas and decrease regulatory burdens on the industry.   

President Trump has issued a number of pronouncements regarding energy production. On his first day in office, January 20, 2017, the America First Energy Plan was released. Essentially, the Plan is a blueprint for future action in order to “maximize the use of American resources, freeing us from dependence on foreign oil.”  It declares that the industry has been “held back by burdensome regulations,” such as the Climate Action Plan and Waters of the United States Rule, and pledges to eliminate these and other “harmful and unnecessary policies.”  Further, the Plan recognizes the “$50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves,” and promises to “embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans.” Continue reading “The Trump Administration’s Impact On Oil and Gas Activities”

Landowner, Operator Protections from Contamination

The ownership of land usually includes the right to use all of the property, both above and below the surface. As a general example, the owner of the surface of the property may use it as he or she sees fit and can also explore for and produce oil and gas from below the surface. But the law allows that the ownership of the land and the ownership of the mineral rights may be separate. In this situation, the interests of the separate owners may not always align. However, even though their interest may not align and their rights and obligations may differ, each can take certain precautions to protect their respective rights. Continue reading “Landowner, Operator Protections from Contamination”

The Meandering Course of the Clean Water Rule

The Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States Rule, has been controversial since it was first proposed. It was opposed in multiple judicial forums when it was finalized in June, 2015. The Trump Administration has taken steps to repeal and replace the Rule. The latest chapter in the ongoing saga is the issuance by the EPA and the Corps of Engineers (the Agencies) of a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice), which provided further justification of its effort to repeal the Rule. Continue reading “The Meandering Course of the Clean Water Rule”

EPA’s 500th Day Victory Lap

On the 500th day of the Trump Administration, EPA touted its “notable policy achievements,” highlighting nine such achievements in a “promises made, promises kept” format. However, some of the noted achievements are works in progress and perhaps need more concrete results before a ‘mission accomplished’ banner is hung at EPA headquarters.

The nine ‘achievements’ listed by EPA include: withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, ensuring clean air and water, reducing burdensome government regulations, repealing the so-called “Clean Power Plan,” repealing the Waters of the United States Rule, promoting energy dominance, promoting science transparency, ending ‘sue and settle,’ and promoting certainty to the auto industry. Continue reading “EPA’s 500th Day Victory Lap”

EPA Enforcement In The Coming Years

EPA’s enforcement presence has been reduced over the last several years. This trend will continue during the Trump Administration as EPA re-defines its relationship with states and tribes. Even so, EPA has announced an enforcement approach that will maintain it as a formidable enforcer of our environmental laws.

According to EPA’s web-site, EPA’s budget was $10.3B in FY 2010, $8.1B in in FY 2016, and $8.06B in FY 2017. For those same years, EPA’s employee count was 17,218, 14,779, and 15,408, respectively. So, EPA’s budget and employee count were on a downward trend during the Obama years.[1] Continue reading “EPA Enforcement In The Coming Years”

Construction Best Management Practices

The construction of large and small infrastructure and capital projects has increased significantly over the last several years. Roads and bridges are being constructed or expanded and many industrial facilities, especially in the Gulf South, are breaking ground to build large complexes or expand existing ones. Obviously, this activity will expose sediments within the construction area and may, during rainfall events, create storm water run-off laden with those sediments. These pollutants can cause problems in nearby streams, lakes and bayous.

Best management practices applicable to construction activities, including clearing, grading and excavation, have been established over the years. The practices apply to construction in areas over five acres and, in some cases, to areas less than five acres. Although they have been in place for several years, it is best to review these practices from time to time to ensure compliance with existing rules and minimize any impact to the environment surrounding the construction site. Continue reading “Construction Best Management Practices”

Clean Water Rule Jurisdiction Resolved in National Association of Manufacturers v. the Department of Defense But Uncertainty Prevails

On January 22, 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued its unanimous ruling in National Association of Manufacturers v. the Department of Defense, et al., No. 16-299.  The decision resolves the issue of the proper court for judicial review of the Clean Water Rule (Rule) issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Corps of Engineers (Corps).

This article will provide some background about the Rule and legal challenges, information about the Supreme Court’s ruling, and highlight some of the uncertainties created in the wake of the decision. Continue reading “Clean Water Rule Jurisdiction Resolved in National Association of Manufacturers v. the Department of Defense But Uncertainty Prevails”