On February 23, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a prepublication notice to change the Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources rule (“2016 Rule”). The rule, soon to be published in the Federal Register, addresses the so-called “delayed repairs” requirement of the rule, and will eliminate the requirement that well and compressor station owners or operators repair leaks during unscheduled or emergency blowdowns, shutdowns, or shut-ins. The new rule will allow the owners and operators to wait to repair a leak until the next scheduled blowdown, shutdown or shut-in, or do so within two years, whichever is earlier. The changes reflect the EPA’s resolution of industry complaints received in response to a November 2017 request for comment, including concerns related to service disruptions and higher shutdown emissions caused by depressurizing the equipment in order to repair it. Additional industry comments that relate to other aspects of the 2016 Rule, however, remain to be addressed in subsequent EPA rulemakings.
On February 20, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice in the Federal Register1 requesting public comment on whether the EPA can regulate discharges to groundwater that flow to jurisdictional surface waters under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Specifically, the EPA seeks comment on whether such regulation is “consistent with the text, structure, and purposes of the CWA.” It further seeks comment on whether the EPA should clarify its prior statements concerning these discharges, including defining the scope of the word “direct.”
On Thursday, June 22, 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a series of actions implementing its new authority to review the safety of chemicals already in U.S. commerce under the recently amended Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA). The actions, required under the 2016 Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act for the 21st Century (LCSA), reflect Congress’ mandate to reinvigorate and expand the EPA’s long moribund program for reviewing so-called “existing chemicals” (chemicals previously introduced into U.S. commerce and listed on the TSCA inventory) to identify and manage unreasonable risks to human health and the environment.1
President Trump’s decision earlier this month to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement—an international, nonbinding agreement to take steps to limit global temperature rise—followed a series of moves at the federal level to dismantle Obama-era restrictions on emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). For example, the administration has rescinded major elements of the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan,1 initiated a review of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2015 Clean Power Plan restrictions on carbon emissions from power plants,2 and extended the implementation dates for restrictions on methane emissions from oil and gas drilling on public lands.3
(Houston) – On June 14, Akin Gump lawyers held the firm’s semiannual energy briefing in its Houston office, with guests in attendance at the event as well as via webinar around the world.
On June 12, 2017, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced another extension to the effective date of the Obama-era rule amending federal Risk Management Program (RMP) requirements for chemical facilities, oil refineries and other industries. The EPA has extended the rule’s effective date until February 19, 2019, in order to allow time for its reconsideration of the rule and provide additional comment opportunities. The 20-month extension follows an initial three-month extension issued in March 2017.
(Houston) – Lawyers and advisors at Akin Gump held a briefing today, titled “The Global Energy Industry: A Look to the Year Ahead in 2017,” addressing some of the big issues likely to affect the global energy industry in the coming year. The event was held as an in-person briefing in the firm’s Houston office and as a webinar for participants around the world.
Globe Law & Business, in its new book Oil and Gas Sale and Purchase Agreements, has included several chapters written by Akin Gump lawyers. The chapters and their corresponding authors are as follows:
- “Conditions precedent and deferred completions,” by oil and gas partner John LaMaster
- “Oil and gas warranties,” by oil and gas counsel Caroline-Lucy Moran
- “Environmental provisions in upstream acquisitions and divestitures,” by environment and natural resources partner emeritus Paul Gutermann
- “Decommissioning,” by oil and gas counsel Nicholas Antonas and partner Marc Hammerson
- “Anti-corruption provisions,” by international trade counsel Nicole D’Avanzo and partner Tatman Savio
- Oil and gas boilerplate provisions,” by John LaMaster