Environmental and Energy Law Blog

Friday, March 31, 2017

Trump Rescinds Controversial Water Rule

One of the most controversial environmental regulations enacted during the Obama administration was the EPA and Army Corps of Engineer’s “Clean Water Rule: Definition of 'Waters of the United States’”. The WOTUS rule, as it was commonly known, greatly expanded the government’s control over land that could be even remotely described as a stream or wetland. Now, President Trump has issued an executive order directing the EPA and Army Corps to review and rescind or revise the rule.

Read more . . .

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Texas Railroad Commission Rolls Back Oil and Gas Regulations

The Texas Railroad Commission continues to relieve the oil and gas industry of regulatory burdens. While this initiative was originally launched in the summer of 2016, the regulatory agency plans to lessen reporting requirements and allow for self reporting of violations all in an effort to further reduce compliance costs.

The commissioners argue that eliminating regulations it deems to be unnecessary will help oil and gas companies prioritize crucial rules, such as ones that are designed to protect water resources. They also believe that reducing reporting requirements will lower costs, particularly for smaller firms that operate low-producing wells.

"We want to make sure that those wells and those operators stay in business, and that those wells have an opportunity to produce," said commission Chairwoman Christi Craddick.

Read more . . .

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The NAAQS as a Metric for the Veil of Cooperative Federalism

From 1970, modern environmental law has been a joint venture between the federal government and the states. When Congress enacted the Clean Air Act (CAA) of 1970 it crafted the model for most of the pollution control legislation enacted in the ensuing decades. Referred to as cooperative federalism the concept was to delegate authority to a federal agency, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to enact standards to achieve clean air goals.

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Taking the Clean Air Act Into the 21st Century and Beyond: A Proposal to Streamline Regulation to Improve U.S. Economic Competiveness

EPA regulation, in including CAA GHG regulations, as well as potential cap-and-trade legislation, will negatively affect U.S. industry over time. Included in this article is an example CAA impact analysis on the U.S. refining industry. Additionally, over-regulation is hurting efficiency and will hurt U.S. competitiveness overseas.

One way to remove excess regulation that is gaining attention from some politicians is to abolish the EPA entirely. Abolishing the EPA would create many new challenges that would likely take many years of legislative maneuvering and litigation to sort out.

This paper proposes a practical, alternate solution: the simplification and modernization of the CAA. By streamlining and simplifying facets of the CAA, the modernized CAA would look more like a framework, easily adaptable to our world’s ever-changing technological and environmental landscape.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Texas Supreme Court Set to Hear Mineral Trespass Case

The Texas Supreme Court has agreed to hear a dispute to determine whether an oil producer can drill through a mineral lease without a lessee's permission. The case involves a dispute between Lightning Oil and E&P Onshore LLC, a subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

Anadarko intends to drill horizontally through property on which Lightning owns rights to oil and gas to reach a nearby oil and gas reserve. Lightning claims that the proposed drilling would trespass through its  mineral estate, however, Anadarko argues that the mineral estate lies in the subsurface, and that it has obtained permission to drill from the surface owner.

Lightning is seeking to overturn a lower appellate court ruling in favor of Anadarko, claiming that decision ignored its legally valid mineral estate and effectively removed real property status from mineral estates.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Congress Rescinds Rules Requiring Energy Companies to Disclose Foreign Government Payments

The U.S. Congress recently voted to rescind a rule requiring energy companies to report payments to foreign governments for the right to develop oil, gas and mineral assets. Lawmakers relied on the Congressional Review Act to repeal the Securities and Exchange Commission rule, a seldom used law that gives Congress the authority to overturn agency regulations.


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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Prospects Look Good for Texas Oil Patch in 2017

Buoyed by a rise in oil prices and forecasts of the Trump administration's pro energy policies, the prospects in 2017 for the Texas oil patch are bright. And the Dallas Federal Reserve's energy survey for the fourth quarter of 2016 bears this out.

The Fed's survey indicated that energy activity spiked from 27.7 to 40.1, an indication energy production will surge in the coming year.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Energy Protestors Coming to West Texas

Back in November, we reported on the concerns of community and environmental groups over the oil and natural gas drilling slated for the Permian Basin near Balmorhea State Park. There are presently two production initiatives in play: Apache Corp's plan to sink about 3,000 wells over the next 20 years to tap the oil and gas reserves, and a pipeline being built by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) from the basin to Mexico.

Now, taking a page from playbook of the Dakota Access pipeline protestors, opponents of energy production intend to open camps near Bog Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park and Balmorhea.

Read more . . .

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Trump Taps Rex Tillerson to Head State Department

In a widely reported and controversial move, President-Elect Donald Trump tapped ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Tex Tillerson to run the state department.

“His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for Secretary of State,” Trump said in a statement.

Tillerson started his career with Exxon in 1975 as a production engineer and has since held a number of internationally focused positions that have enabled him to cultivate relationships in the Arab world, South America, and most notably Russia. In fact, his long standing relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin has raised concerns among lawmakers and media pundits alike.

Nonetheless, the pick is another in what some are calling Trump's transactional approach to domestic and foreign policy.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

EPA Issues Report on Fracking's Impact on Groundwater

Does hydraulic fracturing harm drinking water?

As a result of technological innovations such as hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling, Texas has experienced a boom in the production of natural gas and oil over the last decade. At the same time, these techniques have stirred controversy as opponents contend there has been collateral environmental damage such as groundwater contamination, increased air pollution, and even earthquakes.

Read more . . .

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mineral Owners, Oil and Gas Industry Vying Over Property Rights

While shale drilling has caused a boom in the production of natural gas and oil, it has raised a number of concerns, not the least of which is a struggle over property rights between mineral owners and the oil and gas industry. In fact, some observers believe this fight is headed to the floor of the Texas legislature in its 2017 session.  

Read more . . .

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