Regulatory Activity

New Hydraulic Fracturing Rule Released

The U.S. Department of Interior has released its final agency rule that would regulate the use of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas development on federal and tribal lands. The final rule could have a significant impact on the oil and gas industry given the scope of oil and gas operations on federal and tribal lands. As BLM notes, “Currently, nearly 36 million acres off Federal land are under lease for potential oil and gas development in 33 states. As of June 30, 2014, there were approximately 47,000 active oil and gas leases on public lands, and approximately 95,000 oil and gas wells.” Legislation has already been introduced in the Senate aimed at blocking implementation of the final rule. Shortly after the final rule was released, industry filed a lawsuit to block its implementation. We anticipate hearings on Capitol Hill later this year to explore the potential impact of the rule on future oil and gas development on federal and tribal lands.

New Potential for State Permitting Under Clean Water Act

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking nominations of candidates for its National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology to provide advice as to how states may assume permitting responsibility for waters under approved Clean Water Act dredge and fill permit programs. Nominations are due May 15.

Funding for Wind Turbine Blades

The Department of Energy will provide $1.8 million in funding for research and development to improve “manufacturing, transportation, and assembly of wind turbine blades longer than 60 meters.” Concept papers are due April 17. Click here to apply.

Legislative Activity

Waters of the U.S.

On Tuesday, March 24, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee will hold a full committee hearing to discuss potential impacts of EPA’s Waters of the U.S. proposed rule.

National Forests and Federal Lands

On Tuesday, March 24, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a full committee hearing titled “Improving Forest Health & Socioeconomic Opportunities on the Nation’s Forest System.” Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will testify. Also on Tuesday, the House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Federal Lands, will hold a hearing to examine the FY 2016 proposed “Spending Priorities and Missions of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.”

U.S. Mineral Resources

On Tuesday, March 24 the House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, will hold an oversight hearing to review the “Spending Priorities and Mission of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in the President’s FY 2016 Budget Proposal.” The Subcommittee will also discuss U.S. minerals on Thursday, March 26, while reviewing the FY 16 proposed spending priorities of the U.S. Forest Service’s Energy and Minerals Program as it relates to “job creation, domestic energy production and deficit reduction.”

USGS Water Concerns

On Tuesday, March 24, the House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans, will hold an oversight hearing proposed USGS water priorities for Fiscal Year 2016.”

Renewable Energy

On Tuesday, March 24, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Subcommittee on Energy, will hold an oversight hearing concerning the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. David Danielson, Assistant Secretary, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will testify.