Federal

EPA releases new report on the potential effect of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a new report as part of its larger study of the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The report analyzed well operator files from 323 wells operated by oil and gas service companies. The study’s purpose was to evaluate well design and construction characteristics, the relationship of those factors to drinking water resources and the number and location of barriers that can prevent subsurface fluid migration from wells. The report found that mechanical integrity issues and shallow casing perforations each occurred in less than one percent of wells. The report noted that it was not possible to determine whether any drinking water resources were affected by those incidents.

Group of trade associations files petition for DOT rulemaking to confirm primary role of PHMSA in establishing tank car standards. On Aug. 12, 10 oil and chemical trade associations filed a petition for rulemaking urging the Department of Transportation (DOT) to adopt new rules that would prohibit any person from requiring compliance with tank car specifications that differ from the standards established by the DOT’s Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The petitioners allege that the Association of American Railroads (AAR), acting through the its Tank Car Committee, has sought to set and impose tank car standards more stringent than those established by PHMSA. While the petition acknowledges the important role of AAR and other stakeholders in developing tank car standards, the petitioners claim PHMSA should have the final say in establishing national safety standards.

States

Oklahoma: Landowner files lawsuit challenging BIA approval of oil and gas leases for Ceja Corp. The Virginia Lenker Irrevocable Trust (Trust) recently filed a lawsuit in federal court in Oklahoma challenging oil and gas permits issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to Ceja Corp. for oil and gas exploration on the Osage Nation reservation. Pursuant to the 1906 Osage Allotment Act, the surface estates in the Osage reservation were subdivided and allocated to tribal members while the subsurface rights were held in a trust administered by the BIA. As surface owner of the leased land, the Trust alleges that the leases were approved without notice to surface owners and without the environmental analysis required by the National Environmental Policy Act. The Trust seeks a declaratory judgment that BIA action granting the leases was arbitrary and capricious and also seeks vacatur of the challenged leases.