Author Archives: Stephen C. Smith

Perspectives on COP21 and Future Coal Production

Reporting on the historic climate deal in Paris as a result of the COP21 climate change conference, the Guardian’s headline proclaimed “Paris climate deal: nearly 200 nations sign in [sic] end of fossil fuel era.” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/12/paris-climate-deal-200-nations-sign-finish-fossil-fuel-era. The future of coal production domestically and internationally is an important topic to many readers of this blog. Therefore,… Read More »

Climate Change: From the Parlor to the Boardroom

On the November 6, 2015, President Obama announced that the U.S. Department of State rejected the application for the Keystone XL pipeline as not being in the national interest. On November 9, 2015, Peabody Energy, Inc., the largest U.S. coal producer, agreed to disclose climate change and climate-related regulatory risks to its business in response… Read More »

EPA Focuses on Methane Leaks as Climate Change Takes Center Stage

In the September 2015 edition of the US EPA’s Compliance Alert, EPA reported that it and state investigations had identified Clean Air Act compliance concerns regarding significant emissions from storage vessels, such as tanks or containers, at onshore oil and natural gas production facilities. This EPA alert is consistent with the administration’s attention on climate… Read More »

PA Climate Impacts Assessment Update

In 2008, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act (Act 70) which directed the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to conduct a study of the potential impacts of global climate change on Pennsylvania over the next century and issue a report to be updated every three years. A team from Pennsylvania… Read More »

Stakeholders Focus on Pipelines

With the Marcellus Shale Play going strong after a decade and some speculation that the Utica Shale Play may be even larger (according to two-year geological study conducted by the Appalachian Oil and Natural Gas Research Consortium, a program of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University, see wvgs.wvnet.edu/utica), it… Read More »

IEA Proposes “Bridging Strategy” to Achieve Global Peak in Energy-Related GHG Emissions By 2020

On June 15, 2015, the International Energy Agency (IEA- an autonomous organization which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 29 member countries and beyond) issued a special report entitled “Energy and Climate Change” which proposes a “bridging strategy” that could deliver a peak in global energy-related emissions by the end of… Read More »

EPA Proposes Zero Discharge Rule for Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater

On April 7, 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued proposed regulations which would create pretreatment standards of performance for existing and new sources of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations. EPA is proposing to establish a “zero discharge” effluent limitation which would continue the current industry practice of not discharging wastewater from unconventional… Read More »

Federal Hydraulic Fracturing Rule Issued; Criticized by NGOs and Challenged by Industry and States

On March 20, 2015, the United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued final regulations addressing hydraulic fracturing “as a much-needed complement to existing regulations designed to ensure the environmentally responsible development of oil and gas resources on Federal and Indian lands.” 80 Fed. Reg. 16128 (March 26, 2015) The regulations,… Read More »

Ongoing Political and Legal Developments Impact Marcellus Operations in PA

While some jurisdictions (Maryland, New Jersey; municipalities in California and Colorado) are still considering whether to permit or ban hydraulic fracturing, operators in Pennsylvania need not be too concerned about a statewide moratorium anytime soon. However, operators should be aware of ongoing political and legal developments that may impact their bottom line. 

Regulatory Update on Pennsylvania Oil and Gas

On January 7, 2015, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued an opinion rejecting a challenge by the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Fund (PEDF) of the Commonwealth’s administrative budgetary decisions regarding the leasing of state lands as being in violation of the Environmental Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The court declined to follow an expansive interpretation… Read More »