Pipeline Law

Pipeline Law

Tag Archives: NEPA

Federal Judge Declines to Shut Down Dakota Access Pipeline While Corps Corrects Errors in Environmental Review

Posted in Environmental, Judicial/ Administrative Decisions
Once large infrastructure projects, such as oil and natural gas pipelines, receive federal government approval, they are often the target of legal challenges from opposition groups. Opponents repeatedly argue that the environmental review, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), was insufficient. If a court finds deficiencies in the government’s NEPA analysis, can a court halt construction or cease operations even after years of project design, permit approvals at all levels of government, and tens of millions of dollars in investment? This question was at the heart of the ongoing litigation involving the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), and, on October 11, Judge James Boasberg determined “no,” the court would not shut down the pipeline. This case is important precedent for projects being challenged under NEPA. … Continue Reading

Federal Court Remands Corps Environmental Analysis for Dakota Access Pipeline

Posted in Environmental
Despite oil already flowing through the pipeline, federal litigation involving the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) took another turn last week when partial summary judgment was granted to tribes challenging the adequacy of the US Army Corps of Engineers’ review of DAPL under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other statutes. Two tribes, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, filed suit in July 2016 attempting to block construction of the last remaining segment and operation of DAPL. As sometimes is the case, agency approvals came faster than the court’s opinion, and without a stay of proceedings DAPL began operating in early June 2017. Having granted partial summary judgment, the court did not require pipeline operations to cease, instead delaying the question of an appropriate remedy until after further briefing by the parties.… Continue Reading

Challenging Presidential Permitting Authority

Posted in Environmental, Judicial/ Administrative Decisions, Policy
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… Continue Reading

Draft Revisions to FERC Environmental Report Manual Available for Comment

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Construction & Design, Environmental, Policy
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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