Environmental and Energy Law Blog

Monday, November 27, 2017

In Focus: Measuring the Seismic Activity of Oil Field–Linked Quakes

According to a number of scientific studies, there is a direct link between the recent wave of earthquakes throughout the state of Texas and new oil and gas-related drilling techniques such as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

Today, a state-funded earthquake monitoring system at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) known as TexNet is measuring and tracking seismic activity in the state, particularly in West Texas which has seen a fracking boom. TexNet relies on 22 permanent and 40 portable monitoring stations to track seismic activity. The system was set up in 2015 after lawmakers authorized state-funding.

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

ExxonMobil and PDC Energy Settle Clean Air Act Claims

Exxon Mobil Corp. recently agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty to settle a lawsuit brought by Department of Justice for alleged Clean Air Act (CAA) violations at petrochemical manufacturing facilities in Texas and Louisiana. In a related development, Denver-based PDC  Energy Inc. also agreed to pay $2.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

$100 Million in Damages Awarded in Eagle Ford Shale Dispute

As anyone in the energy production sector can attest, contracts are the bedrock of doing business in the oil and gas industry. Recently, a legal dispute between two oil companies in the Eagle Ford Shale culminated in a $100 million award in damages. A South Texas jury found that Canada’s Talisman Energy USA Inc. violated a joint operating agreement with Houston’s Matrix Petroleum by underpaying the company for Eagle Ford oil and gas production.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Texas Supreme Court Reviews Emission Credit Suit v TCEQ, October 11, 2017

Texas Supreme Court justices on Wednesday October 11 tried to figure out an appropriate penalty for a coating manufacturer that missed a statutory deadline to serve the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality with a lawsuit challenging an agency ruling on pollution emissions credits.
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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Homeowners Join Lawsuit Against Arkema

As Hurricane Harvey was wrecking havoc on Southeast Texas, the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby experienced a power loss after it was inundated floodwaters, triggering explosions and fires. Poisonous fumes allegedly spread over a several mile area surrounding the plant. Although Arkema officials maintained it was a non-toxic irritant, residents within a 1.5 mile radius were evacuated for a week. Upon returning, they were advised to wear protective clothing and drink bottled water.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Harvey Triggers Major Gasoline Spill in Texas

What were the environmental impacts of Hurricane Harvey?

As Southeast Texas continues to grapple with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the immediate and long term environmental impacts will be a key consideration. In particular, the storm triggered failures numerous leaks from petrochemical storage tanks into area waterways.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Texas Oil Sector Bounces Back from Harvey

The Texas oil industry is rapidly recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Harvey, with most of the refineries up and running again and the major ports in the state returning to normal operations. As has widely been reported, after Harvey made landfall, up to one-third of the nation’s refinery capacity was offline, halting delivery of Texas petro-products to the Northeast through the Colonial Pipeline.

Now, the recovery in oil production has been quicker than many analysts predicted. Moreover, as operations ramped up, prices for gasoline eased up a bit. As of September 9, the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Texas Conservation Plan for the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Under Pressure

The Texas Comptroller’s office recently sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) stating that the Texas Conservation Plan for the dunes sagebrush lizard is being threatened by companies that mine the fine-grain sand oil producers use for hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

Endangered Sagebrush Lizard

In 2010, the FWS proposed listing the lizard as an endangered species because of the loss of habitat due to sand mining to support oil and gas fracking and ranching operations in the Permian Basin. Industry groups pushed back, however, claiming that an official listing would hinder much needed oil and gas production through the use of fracking techniques in old wells. The Comptroller’s office, which has oversight of endangered species, then worked with oil industry participants to craft a voluntary plan to protect the sand lizard’s habitat.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Solar Power Rising in West Texas

How do solar farms contribute to energy production?

Although Texas has long been the heart of the oil-patch, alternative forms of energy production  have been making inroads in the state, particularly in West Texas. While the rise of wind turbines has made the region a worldwide leader in wind energy, solar power has also become an important part of the mix.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Interior Secretary Signs Order to Expedite Oil and Gas Drilling on Federal Lands

As part of the Trump Administration’s effort to increase U.S. energy production, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently signed an order calling for faster and more efficient oil and gas permitting on federal lands. It goes without saying that environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, are opposed to the order, calling it a giveaway to oil and gas interests.

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

EPA Finalizes TSCA Inventory "Reset" Rule

The 2016 Lautenberg amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) require EPA to designate chemical substances on the TSCA Chemical Substance Inventory as either “active” or “inactive” in U.S. commerce. To accomplish that, EPA is establishing a retrospective electronic notification of chemical substances on the TSCA Inventory that were manufactured including imported for nonexempt commercial purposes during the 10-year period ending on June 21, 2016, with provision to also allow notification by processors. EPA will use these notifications to distinguish active substances from inactive substances.

Read more . . .

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