Pipeline Law

Pipeline Law

Category Archives: Construction & Design

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House Approves Bill to Reform Permitting Process for Cross-Border Pipelines, Despite Presidential Opposition

Posted in Construction & Design, Federal/ State Legislation, Policy
Despite veto threats from the Obama Administration, H.R. 3301, the “North American Energy Infrastructure Act”, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 238 to 173 on June 24, 2014.  The purpose of the bill (subject of a prior post) is to eliminate the Presidential permitting process for cross-border pipelines and electric … Continue Reading

Environmental Groups Continue Judicial Challenges to Keystone XL

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental
The Sierra Club recently filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), alleging that the Corps wrongfully withheld documents pertaining to its evaluation of the environmental impacts of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.  In March 2013, the Sierra Club requested preconstruction notifications (PCNs) submitted … Continue Reading

Government Inaction: Fate of Keystone XL Remains Political

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Federal/ State Legislation, Policy
The State Department recently released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Keystone XL Pipeline. As a final installment to the project's review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the FEIS assesses the potential impacts associated with the proposed pipeline and its alternatives.… Continue Reading

Changing U.S. Energy Markets Prompt Increased Pipeline Flow Reversals and Conversions

Posted in Construction & Design, Operation & Maintenance, Policy
The changing U.S. energy market continues to have a dramatic effect on the construction and operation of oil and gas pipeline infrastructure. One of the largest new pipeline construction projects in the past several decades – the nearly 1,700 mile Rockies Express gas pipeline between Wyoming and Ohio (REX) – began operation in 2009, with a west to east direction of flow.… Continue Reading

House Votes on Two New Pieces of Proposed Pipeline Legislation

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Federal/ State Legislation, Policy
Two bills aimed at expediting pipeline construction permitting and, in turn, U.S. energy production are moving through the House of Representatives, but face opposition in the Senate and the White House. The Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act passed the House of Representatives by a large majority on Thursday, November 21, 2013.… Continue Reading

Grants for Pipeline Safety Research Increase

Posted in Construction & Design, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA
In a growing trend, PHMSA has recently awarded substantive grants for pipeline safety research to numerous universities, consultants, and local pipeline safety groups.  Collectively, these grants highlight the Agency’s increased focus on improved technologies for detecting pipeline defects, pipeline construction quality assurance and quality control, and public awareness education and training.… Continue Reading

Congress Considers North American Energy Infrastructure Act

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Federal/ State Legislation, Policy
On October 22, 2013, House Representatives Upton (R-MI) and Green (D-TX) introduced the North American Energy Infrastructure Act, H.R. 3301. The bill is intended to streamline the permitting process for cross-border pipelines and electric transmission facilities by eliminating the Presidential permitting process, requiring that all requests for approval of cross-border oil pipelines be administered directly by the Secretary of Commerce and all requests for natural gas pipeline crossings be administered directly by FERC.… Continue Reading

Texas Railroad Commission Adopts Amendments to Oil & Gas Well Construction Rules

Posted in Construction & Design, Federal/ State Legislation
The Texas Railroad Commission on May 24th adopted amendments to the Commission’s well construction requirements rule (Statewide Rule 13) to clarify current oil and gas well construction requirements related to casing, cementing, drilling, well control and completions, particularly with regard to hydraulic fracturing operations. Among other things, the amendments impose new obligations regarding pressure testing, … Continue Reading

Expedited Permitting Bill Introduced in House

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Federal/ State Legislation
Representative Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) introduced HR 1900, to provide for timely consideration of licenses, permits, and approvals with respect to the siting, construction, expansion, or operation of any natural gas pipeline projects. The bill would amend the Natural Gas Act by requiring FERC to approve or deny a certificate of public convenience or necessity no … Continue Reading

Vermont Regulators Issue Jurisdictional Opinion Applying State NEPA to Pipeline Flow Reversal Projects

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Judicial/ Administrative Decisions
On April 15, 2013, the Vermont Natural Resources Board (Board) issued a jurisdictional opinion that Act 250, the State’s land use permitting statute, would apply to flow reversal projects for transport of Canadian tar sands oil.  The opinion was the result of a petition by several environmental groups seeking review of a possible reversal of … Continue Reading

Notice of Availability of Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on Keystone XL

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Policy
TransCanada’s proposed new pipeline construction project to carry tar sands oil from Canada to the US Gulf Coast received considerable scrutiny when initially proposed. Because the new pipeline crosses an international border, it requires a Presidential Permit from the State Department, and that process in turn requires preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under … Continue Reading

GAO Issues Report on Natural Gas Permitting Processes

Posted in Construction & Design, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
In response to the PSA amendments of 2011, GAO reviewed permitting processes for both interstate and intrastate natural gas pipeline projects given the recent increase in pipelines needed to manage the growth in domestic natural gas production.  While the report does not make any particular recommendations, it does examine the various permit processes necessary to … Continue Reading

INGAA Releases Study Finding Increased Delays in Non-FERC Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting

Posted in Construction & Design, Federal/ State Legislation, PHMSA, Policy
Despite the goal of the 2005 Energy Policy Act’s (EPAct) to streamline and expedite permitting for natural gas pipeline construction projects, a recent study funded by INGAA found that non-FERC agencies have experienced increased delays in permitting projects. The percentage of federal authorizations issued more than 90 days beyond FERC’s issuance of its final NEPA … Continue Reading

Judge Denies Sierra Club Attempt to Stop Keystone Gulf Coast Project

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Judicial/ Administrative Decisions, Policy
On August 5, 2012, the Western District of Oklahoma denied Sierra Club’s attempt to seek a temporary injunction to stop commencement of construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline project scheduled to begin August 6, 2012.  In mid-July, Sierra Club challenged the Army Corps of Engineer’s (Corps) Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) … Continue Reading

Sierra Club Sues to Block Keystone Gulf Coast Project

Posted in Construction & Design, Judicial/ Administrative Decisions
In a lawsuit that could have a broader impact than just halting the pipeline, the Sierra Club has brought a lawsuit against the US Army Corps of Engineers’ issuance of a NWP 12 permit to the Keystone Gulf Coast Project. The NWP 12 permit authorizes construction, maintenance and repair of linear utility lines in waters … Continue Reading

Western Public Land Utility Corridors Will Be Reevaluated

Posted in Construction & Design, Judicial/ Administrative Decisions
If a Federal Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California approves a Settlement Agreement, Utility Corridors designated as a result of Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) may be rerouted over federal lands in the 11 contiguous western states of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New … Continue Reading

Pipeline Infrastructure Projects Given Priority by Administration

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Policy
In the latest of a series of Presidential statements on infrastructure permitting, on March 22, 2012 President Obama issued an Executive Order directing pertinent agencies to “coordinate and expedite their reviews . . . to expedite decisions related to domestic pipeline infrastructure projects, ” and in a Presidential Memorandum issued that same day, specifically identified … Continue Reading

Second Circuit denies stay of construction of pipeline

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Judicial/ Administrative Decisions
On February 28, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit lifted an emergency temporary stay of construction activity the court had granted a week earlier on a proposed interstate pipeline and related pipeline facilities in Pennsylvania, serving the Marcellus Shale. The court initially stayed construction pending review of a petition brought by … Continue Reading

Second Circuit stays pipeline construction for failure to examine environmental impacts of Marcellus drilling

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Judicial/ Administrative Decisions
In what could be a significant precedential decision, on February 17, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted an emergency temporary stay of construction activity on a proposed interstate pipeline and related pipeline facilities in Pennsylvania, serving the Marcellus Shale. Under review is a petition brought by the Sierra Club and … Continue Reading

President Obama denies Keystone XL pipeline permit

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Policy
President Obama denied the Keystone XL permit application based on a recommendation from the State Department that it did not have enough time to vet alternative pipeline routes before the February 21st approval deadline imposed by Congress in the payroll tax extension legislation. While the current Keystone XL application has been denied, the administration will … Continue Reading

President Obama signs payroll tax cut extension bill that includes 60 day deadline for a decision regarding the Keystone XL pipeline

Posted in Construction & Design, Federal/ State Legislation, Policy
On December 23, 2011, President Obama signed the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011, HR 3765, that temporarily extends the two percentage point payroll tax cut for employees, and also includes a Republican negotiated deadline for the President to either approve the Keystone XL pipeline or determine that the project is not in … Continue Reading

House introduces North American Energy Access Act

Posted in Construction & Design, Federal/ State Legislation, Policy
Republican Congressman Lee Terry of Nebraska introduced HR 3548. that would, among other things, transfer to the decision to review the Keystone XL project to FERC. In addition, FERC would be required to make a decision approving or denying the project within 30 days based on the Final EIS issued in August of 2011. FERC … Continue Reading