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Texas Environmental Update

July 1, 2014

The environmental practice of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP offers seamless, front-rank representation in local, state, national, and cross-border regulatory, enforcement, and litigation matters, as well as experienced counsel on the environmental aspects of transactions and operations across the country and around the world. We are dedicated to helping clients successfully navigate complex and costly environmental issues and to building longstanding client relationships founded on superior advice, integrity, and value. We are pleased to provide you with this issue of Bracewell's Texas Environmental Update, offering the latest news about permitting, enforcement, regulatory developments, and other matters of interest to the regulated community in Texas.


NY High Court Upholds Local Bans on Hydraulic Fracturing
Energy Legal Blog, July 1, 2014
On June 30, 2014, the New York State Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, held that municipalities can effectively "zone out" oil and gas operations by passing zoning ordinances that ban oil and gas production activities, including hydraulic fracturing, within municipal boundaries.  The court rejected claims that the state’s Oil Gas and Solution Mining Law (OGSML) preempts [...]

Supreme Court Limits EPA's GHG Permitting Authority and Creates Questions Regarding Implementation
Energy Legal Blog, June 30, 2014
On Monday, June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long awaited decision in UARG v. EPA, the case that questioned EPA's authority to require stationary sources to obtain Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V air permits for greenhouse gases (GHGs).  Specifically, the Court considered:  (1) whether a stationary source can be required [...]

OSHA's Permian Expansion Signals Increased Scrutiny of Safety in the Oil Patch
Energy Legal Blog, June 19, 2014
During a 2013 visit to Texas, Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor and Administrator of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA"), spoke at multiple stakeholder events of OSHA's growing concerns with respect to worker safety in the Texas oil patch. Dr. Michaels left no doubt during his Texas visit that he and his [...]



Commissioners' July 2, 2014 Meeting Agenda 
TCEQ Web Site

Commissioners' June 18, 2014 Agenda Meeting Webcast



TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $522,627
TCEQ Web Site, June 18, 2014
"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality today approved penalties totaling $352,453 against 30 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations."

Regulatory Developments
What's New in TCEQ Rules
TCEQ Web Site, June 27, 2014


Court: Texas Not Liable for Death of Cranes
Houston Chronicle, June 30, 2014
"A federal appeals court ruled Monday that the state of Texas was not to blame for the unusually high number of deaths of endangered whooping cranes during a drought-plagued winter, saying the unique events could not have been predicted or controlled."

Texas Committee Considers Desalination
Beaumont Enterprise, June 30, 2014
"WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) - A Texas congressional committee is convening in North Texas to discuss the technology and cost of water desalination as the state grapples with persistent drought."

Outlook: Despite Its Name, Texas' Wastewater Is a Valuable Resource
Houston Chronicle, June 27, 2014
"The decline and fall of the water levels in the Colorado River's Highland Lakes continues as central Texas enters another summer in drought conditions."

Here's 5 Challenges to Texas Water That Might Surprise You
StateImpact Texas, June 27, 2014
"With nearly 70 percent of the state still stuck in a drought that has dragged on for years, there's been plenty of talk about how to strengthen water supplies in Texas." 


Definition of 'Waters of the United States' Under the Clean Water Act; Extension of Comment Period
79 Federal Register 35712, June 24, 2014


Notice of Intent to Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Outer Continental Shelf, Alaska OCS Region, Chukchi Sea Planning Area, Oil and Gas Lease Sale 193
79 Federal Register 35378, June 20, 2014

Notice of Intent (NOI) to Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Central Planning Area Lease Sales 241 and 247, and Eastern Planning Area Lease Sale 226
79 Federal Register 35378, June 20, 2014


Information Collection Activities: Oil and Gas and Sulphur Operations in the OCS - General; Submitted for Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Review; Comment Request
79 Federal Register 36811, June 30, 2014


Proposed Rule, Petroleum Refinery Sector Risk and Technology Review and New Source Performance Standards
79 Federal Register 36880, June 30, 2014

Release of Integrated Review Plan for the Primary National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Oxides of Nitrogen
79 Federal Register 36801, June 30, 2014

One Year Into Obama's Climate Action Plan, Limits on Executive Actions Remain Obvious
Bloomberg BNA, June 25, 2014
"A year after President Barack Obama announced he wouldn't wait for a reluctant Congress to address climate change and unveiled a plan for tackling the issue, it is becoming increasingly clear his administration will have to move at a fast clip to get a package of regulatory actions finalized before his second term ends two and a half years from now."

Supreme Court Mostly Upholds EPA's Greenhouse Gas Authority
Dallas Morning News, June 23, 2014
"WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court mostly upheld on Monday the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants."

Extension of Request for Scientific Views for Updated National Recommended Water Quality Criteria for the Protection of Human Health
79 Federal Register 35544, June 23, 2014

Proposed Rule, Carbon Pollution Standards for Modified and Reconstructed Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units
79 Federal Register 34960, June 18, 2014

Proposed Rule, Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units
79 Federal Register 34830, June 18, 2014


EPA Finalizes Greenhouse Gas Permit for ONEOK Hydrocarbon
Region 6 Web Site, June 20, 2014
"DALLAS - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a final greenhouse gas (GHG) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) construction permit to ONEOK Hydrocarbon."

Lawyer: Aquifer decision by EPA 'A Huge Victory'
Victoria Advocate, June 19, 2014
"In a move that experts say could set a national precedent, the Environmental Protection Agency is withdrawing part of its approval of a safe drinking water act exemption for uranium mining in Goliad County."


Final Policy on Interpretation of the Phrase "Significant Portion of Its Range" in the Endangered Species Act's Definitions of "Endangered Species" and "Threatened Species"
79 Federal Register 37578, July 1, 2014

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Texas Ayenia Draft Recovery Plan; Correction
79 Federal Register 37340, July 1, 2014

Proposed Rules; Extension of Comment Periods; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Changes to the Definitions and Regulations for Designating Critical Habitat
79 Federal Register 36284, June 26, 2014

Notice; Extension of Comment Period; Policy Regarding Implementation of Section 4(b)(2) of the Endangered Species Act
79 Federal Register 36330, June 26, 2014

Notice of Availability; Request for Comment; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Texas Ayenia Draft Recovery Plan
79 Federal Register 36087, June 25, 2014


Pipeline Safety: Public Workshop on Managing Pipeline Cracking Challenges
79 Federal Register 37390, July 1, 2014

Notice of Public Forum; Pipeline Safety: Government/Industry Pipeline Research and Development Forum
79 Federal Register 37389, July 1, 2014

Notice and Request for Comments; Pipeline Safety: Information Collection Activities, Revisions to Operator Identification (OPID) Assignment Request and Operator Registry Notification
79 Federal Register 37388, July 1, 2014


Editorial: Texas Railroad Commission Must Let Its Experts Speak
Beaumont Enterprise, June 26, 2014
"Politicians demanding more transparency in state government understand a basic fact: When an agency balks at providing access to detailed information, people will wonder what it is hiding."


Fracking Study Finds New Gas Wells Leak More
Beaumont Enterprise, July 1, 2014
"WASHINGTON (AP) - In Pennsylvania's gas drilling boom, newer and unconventional wells leak far more often than older and traditional ones, according to a study of state inspection reports for 41,000 wells."

Man-Made Wetlands Are New Water Source for Tarrant
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 28, 2014
"CORSICANA - The water moving through the Trinity River is murky to say the least."

Fracking Foes Turn to Cities
Denton Record-Chronicle, June 21, 2014
"Anti-fracking forces across the country have tapped into local governments to get them to tap the brakes on fracking, a technological advance that allows energy companies to extract oil and gas from deep rock formations by pressure-pumping them with sand, water and chemicals."

Quakes Rattle Confidence in Texas Energy Boom
NBC News, June 21, 2014
"It wasn't the semi-trucks rumbling down country roads, or the dust, or the natural gas wells that popped up around their homes that finally got to residents of Azle and Reno, Texas."


Assessment and Risk Analysis of Casing and Cement Impairment in Oil and Gas Wells in Pennsylvania, 2000 - 2012
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 30, 2014
"An analysis of 75,505 compliance reports for 41,381 conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania drilled from January 1, 2000 - December 31, 2012, was performed with the objective of determining complete and accurate statistics of casing and cement impairment."

Power Forward 2.0: How American Companies Are Setting Clean Energy Targets and Capturing Greater Business Value
Ceres, 2014
"In this report, the second in the Power Forward series, we expand upon the analysis of clean energy and climate targets from the U.S. Fortune 100 to include the full U.S. Fortune 500."