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Induced seismicity developments: Earthquake lawsuit jurisdiction, new research, and seismic monitoring

This June earthquakes captured the attention of courts, researchers, and regulators in key oil and gas producing states. Oklahoma’s highest court gave the green light to a lawsuit blaming injection wells for a plaintiff’s home damage and personal injuries suffered during an earthquake. Kentucky is increasing seismic monitoring within the state, and Texas oil and gas regulators continue to study the issue. As geophysics experts seek to know more about the true risks associated with induced seismicity, understanding by the U.S. Geological Survey and researchers continues to take shape.

In a first-of-its kind ruling on June 30, the Oklahoma Supreme … Continue Reading

EPA reviews states’ solid waste management regulations for oil and gas operations

In an April 1, 2014 memorandum, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) summarized state regulatory programs concerning the management of solid waste from oil and natural gas exploration, development and production (E&P) operations.

In reviewing each state’s regulations, the EPA focused on surface storage and disposal facilities managing produced waters, drilling muds, drilling cuttings, hydraulic fracturing return fluids, and various other waste liquids and materials intrinsically related to oil and gas E&P.

The EPA found that the state regulations were primarily concerned with the “technical requirements associated with the design, construction, operation, maintenance, closure, and reclamation of surface pits, … Continue Reading

Summit Petroleum (6th Cir. Aug. 7, 2012): EPA’s Aggregation of Oil and Gas Emissions Based on “Mere Functional Relatedness” is Unreasonable

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit* in Summit Petroleum Corporation v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Nos. 09-4348; 10-4572) vacated EPA’s order aggregating Summit’s sour gas wells and sweetening plant into a single major source.

The Court agreed with American Petroleum Institute and American Exploration and Production Counsel that EPA’s determination that the physical requirement of “adjacency” in an aggregation determination can be established through mere functional relatedness is unreasonable and contrary to the plain meaning of the term “adjacent.”

The court remanded the case to EPA for a reassessment of Summit’s Title V … Continue Reading

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