USFWS seeks information related to potential Endangered Species Act listing for greater sage grouse.
On August 11, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced a formal status review that will seek information related to a possible Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing for the greater sage grouse. The Agency is seeking information from state and federal agencies, tribes, industry representatives and environmental groups. Listing the bird could materially impact oil and gas development across the west, including in Montana, Wyoming and elsewhere. States have sought to avert a listing, in part, by developing conservation plans to protect the species. An
industry representative stated that, as part of oil and gas development projects, companies have committed to 773 conservation measures that will protect more than 68,000 square miles of habitat for the greater sage grouse. The USFWS is under a court order to make a final ESA listing decision by September 30, 2015.
NGO claims operators use “diesel fuel” in hydraulic fracturing wells without requisite permit.
The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) asserted that more than 350 wells have used “diesel fuel” as an
ingredient in hydraulic fracturing fluids since 2010 without obtaining a permit under the federal Safe Drinking
Water Act (SDWA). By federal law, injecting hydraulic fracturing fluids does not require an SDWA permit,
unless the fluid contains “diesel fuels.” The SDWA and implementing regulations do not define “diesel fuel,” but
EPA issued interpretive guidance on the term that it finalized earlier this year. EIP also claims that chemical
disclosure reports submitted to FracFocus were revised in a number of cases to remove references to diesel fuel.
Hydraulic fracturing operators took issue with the report, noting that EIP used an unduly broad definition of
diesel fuel and that revisions to the FracFocus reports were made in response to revised data provided by
suppliers. FracFocus also defended its reporting program, which continues to perform its intended function of
providing data to citizens regarding the chemicals used in injection fluids at a specific well site.
New Jersey Governor vetoes ban on disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste. On August 8, 2014 Gov.
Christie vetoed a bill that would have prohibited the treatment of disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste in new
Jersey. The bill, S. 1041, had broad bipartisan support and was similar to another bill that Gov. Christie vetoed
Sidley is pleased to announce that our
weekly update “This Week in Hydraulic
Fracturing” is now available as a blog on
the internet. Please visit The Sidley Shale and
Hydraulic Fracturing Report.
Firm clients and other interested parties
can now sign up for email alerts that will
notify them when new posts are added to
the blog. If you have any editorial
questions or comments, you should
contact Roger Martella (DC), Sam
Boxerman (DC), Joel Visser (DC) or Jim
Wedeking (DC) or Katharine Newman
(CH). SIDLEY SHALE GAS AND HYDRAULIC FRACTURING REPORT
in 2012. In each case, Gov. Christie asserted that the bill would violate the dormant Commerce Clause of the
United States Constitution. Hydraulic fracturing does not currently occur in New Jersey and, as a result, only
out-of-state hydraulic fracturing operators would be affected by such a ban. The legislature has not yet
determined whether it will seek to override Gov. Christie’s veto.
North Dakota considering regulations to require reduced volatility of Bakken crude oil before
transport. The North Dakota Industrial Commission has announced plans to consider regulations to reduce
the volatility of Bakken crude oil. While studies of Bakken crude oil have reached different conclusions
regarding its volatility compared to other crudes, a study conducted for the Industrial Commission has
recommended steps to reduce the volatility of Bakken crude oil before it is transported. The process would
involve heating the crude oil to reduce flammable gases and then letting it stand in tanks before shipment. The
Industrial Commission intends to hold a hearing on this issue in September.
Texas Railroad Commission proposes seismicity regulations. On August 12, the Texas Railroad
Commission released proposed rules to regulate the seismicity allegedly associated with the underground
disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste water. The Commission declined to recognize a causal link between
wastewater disposal and seismic activity, but proposed to require that permit applicants must evaluate the area’s
seismic history as part of the permitting process. In addition, the Commission would be given authority to shut
down an injection well that is linked to seismic activity. In response to previous calls to shut down injection
wells located near seismic activity, the Commission had previously stated it lacked the authority to do so. The
proposal will be published later this month and will then be subject to a 30-day comment period.
Virginia announces special permit review process for hydraulic fracturing in Coastal Plain. On
August 13, Virginia Gov. McAuliffe announced a special review process for hydraulic fracturing permit
applications in the Coastal Plain. Under the revised permitting process, the Department of Mines, Minerals and
Energy (DMME) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will have joint review authority over
permitting decisions. Before any permits are issued, however, the two agencies must complete a review of the
potential cumulative impacts of hydraulic fracturing in the Coastal Plain. In addition to its standard role in
reviewing DMME environmental assessments, DEQ may also conduct its own independent environmental
assessments—an action that could effectively freeze the DMME permitting process.
If you have any questions regarding this update, please contact the Sidley lawyer with whom you usually work.
The Environmental Practice of Sidley Austin LLP
Our Environmental practice consists of approximately 40 lawyers who practice environmental law on a full-time basis out of four
domestic offices, assisting as needed in the firm’s other offices. Over 25 years old, the environmental group is one of the largest in
the United States with extensive experience and depth in all aspects of environmental and natural resources law, including the
emerging area of climate change regulations. We are dedicated to monitoring emerging issues for our clients, and to bringing a
practical, results-oriented perspective to the precise problem at hand. For further information on our Environmental Practice,
please contact: David T. Buente (+1.202.736.8111, email@example.com), Robert M. Olian (+1.312.853.7208, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Judith M. Praitis (+1.213.896.6637, email@example.com), or Maureen M. Crough (+1.212.839.7323, firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Energy Practice of Sidley Austin LLP
Sidley has a diversified and global Energy practice. We represent clients in virtually every aspect of the energy industry, including
upstream oil and gas developers, oilfield service companies, natural gas pipelines, crude oil and refined product pipelines, electric
utilities, merchant electric transmission companies, independent power producers, alternative energy developers, suppliers and SIDLEY SHALE GAS AND HYDRAULIC FRACTURING REPORT
contractors, energy trading companies, and the financial institutions that serve companies in all of these industry segments. Our
energy practice encompasses all types of transactional, litigation and regulatory matters.
To receive future copies of this and other Sidley updates via email, please sign up at www.sidley.com/subscribe
BEIJING ∙ BOSTON ∙ BRUSSELS ∙ CHICAGO ∙ DALLAS ∙ FRANKFURT ∙ GENEVA ∙ HONG KONG ∙ HOUSTON ∙ LONDON ∙ LOS ANGELES
NEW YORK ∙ PALO ALTO ∙ SAN FRANCISCO ∙ SHANGHAI ∙ SINGAPORE ∙ SYDNEY ∙ TOKYO ∙ WASHINGTON, D.C.
Sidley Austin refers to Sidley Austin LLP and affiliated partnerships as explained at www.sidley.com/disclaimer. www.sidley.com