Definition of ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Finally Proposed

EPA and the Corps of Engineers have finally proposed a new definition of “waters of the United States” to replace the Obama-era definition. The proposed definition is consistent with the executive order issued by President Trump in February 2017, which sought a regulatory definition similar to the more restrictive view of jurisdiction suggested by Justice Scalia in the Rapanos decision. Continue reading “Definition of ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Finally Proposed”

EPA Offers New Owners A New Hope

EPA is taking steps to further compliance and reduce emissions in the upstream oil and gas sector. It announced it is developing, and seeking comments on, a New Owner Clean Air Act Audit Policy (CAA Policy). Once implemented, new owners may conduct an in-depth audit of newly acquired facilities, correct identified violations or issues, and obtain a full civil penalty waiver for violations existing prior to the acquisition of the facility. Continue reading “EPA Offers New Owners A New Hope”

Upstream Operators May Get Some Regulatory Relief

EPA proposed revisions to the emission standards for the oil and natural gas sector, which has become known as the Methane Rule, on Sept. 11, 2018. The revisions, as proposed, do not substantially alter the fundamental requirements of the rule, but do relax several provisions for which the industry requested reconsideration. EPA also freely admits that the proposed revisions will increase emissions of methane and VOCs. Continue reading “Upstream Operators May Get Some Regulatory Relief”

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”