The Third Circuit held in a highly anticipated recent decision that state actions on water quality-related permits for interstate natural gas pipeline projects are reviewable only in the federal Circuit Courts of Appeals, in accordance with the Natural Gas Act (NGA).
Continue Reading Federal Appellate Review of State Agency Decisions for Interstate Natural Gas Projects Confirmed

Recent developments in cases brought by Constitution Pipeline Company to challenge New York’s denial of certain water quality authorizations highlight tensions between federal and state oversight of interstate natural gas pipeline construction projects, and the accompanying potential for costly and protracted delays.
Continue Reading Constitution Pipeline Cases Reflect Tension in States’ Roles in Permitting Natural Gas Projects

Recently proposed legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives would require FERC to revise its review process for proposed natural gas pipeline expansion projects to include additional analysis of cumulative impacts in a single region or State and extended environmental monitoring.  While this bill is unlikely to gain traction in the Republican-controlled House, it is indicative of an ongoing debate about the need for and environmental impacts of new pipeline construction, and the role of both federal and state regulators in reviewing and approving such projects—a debate that has attracted national attention in the wake of the Obama administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL project in late 2015.

Continue Reading House Bill Reflects Ongoing Resistance to New Pipeline Construction

The ongoing leak of methane from Southern California Natural Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon/Porter Ranch underground storage field near Los Angeles has drawn national attention to underground natural gas storage, triggering regulatory and legislative efforts to regulate these facilities at federal and state levels.
Continue Reading Another Step Closer to Federal Regulation of Underground Storage

The question of whether Presidential Permit authority is constitutional and/or subject to judicial review has been and continues to be an unsettled issue.  A little more than a month after the State Department’s November 2015 denial of TransCanada’s application for a Presidential Permit to construct its Keystone XL pipeline project, the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota ruled in White Earth Nation et al. v. Kerry et al. that State Department Presidential Permitting decisions are Presidential in nature and are therefore not subject to judicial review.  Approximately one month later, in January 2016, TransCanada filed two separate actions to challenge the Obama administration’s rejection of its application for a Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.  The first action was filed in federal district court in Texas to challenge the denial of the Keystone Presidential Permit, and the second is a Notice of Intent to submit a claim to arbitration under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Continue Reading Challenging Presidential Permitting Authority

Consistent with President Obama’s “Climate Action Plan,” the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released proposed rules intended to significantly curb emissions from new and existing oil and gas production wells on federal and tribal lands. In total, BLM proposes to cut natural gas emissions (from both intentional and unintentional releases) associated with oil and gas wells on all federal public lands by 50%. This will be accomplished through modernizing the current regulations (which are over 30 years old) by requiring operators to adopt best practices and updated technologies.

Continue Reading BLM Proposes Sweeping Rules to Curb Methane Emissions

PHMSA has again released an advisory to pipeline operators on the potential for damage to pipeline facilities caused by severe flooding, as well as actions operators should consider taking to ensure the integrity of pipelines in the event of flooding, river scour, and river channel migration.  The advisory is essentially identical to advisories PHMSA has issued on the same topic in July 2013 and April 2015 (see previous posts on these advisories from 2013 and 2015), reflecting a tendency of the Agency to issue such guidance cyclically.

Continue Reading Advisory Regarding Damage to Pipeline from Flooding Re-Issued

FERC recently published a revised draft Guidance Manual for Environmental Report Preparation for review and public comment. The revised Guidance Manual updates FERC’s 2002 guidance manual on environmental report preparation for projects seeking FERC authorization under the Natural Gas Act (NGA), supplementing the previous guidance as well as adding new sections explaining requirements for environmental report preparation.
Continue Reading Draft Revisions to FERC Environmental Report Manual Available for Comment