American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018 - 92

IndustryDigest
Several anti-development groups,
including the Center for Biological
Diversity, attacked Zinke's actions,
saying the change endangers the sage
grouse. CBD points out the bird's habitat
also is home to more than 350 species,
including the pronghorn, elk, golden
eagle and nearly 200 other bird species.
In response to comments submitted
in opposition to the March lease sale,
BLM says the new IM authorizes more
stringent lease stipulations within the
greater sage grouse habitat areas to
encourage lessees to acquire leases
outside those areas. The bureau also
notes that since it, Wyoming and other
partners began developing the current
sage grouse conservation strategy in
2008, there has been a 73 percent
reduction in federal oil and gas leases in
the sage grouse's core population areas.
The Wyoming sale resulted in
competitive bids for 152 of the 170
parcels, with sales topping $19 million.
It was the first BLM lease sale of 2018
in the state, and included parcels in 13
counties in the BLM Wyoming High
Plains and Wind River/Bighorn Basin
districts. The highest per acre bid,
submitted by Titan Exploration LLC,
was slightly more than $12,000 an acre.
BLM adds its second-quarter lease
sale will be held the third week of June
and will be composed of parcels from
the bureau's Wyoming High Desert
District. r

New York State Attempt
To Block Pipeline Is
Overruled By Court
NEW YORK-Attorneys with
Spilman, Thomas & Battle term
"precedent setting" the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the 2nd Circuit's March 12
decision that New York State's failure to
make a timely Clean Water Act 401
certification decision constituted a waiver
of the state's right to act on the pipeline.
The Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission ruled last September that
the New York Department of
Environmental Conservation had
waived its right to issue the 401
certificate for Millennium Pipeline
Company's Valley Lateral project
because the DEC had not acted within
one year of the filing date.
Spilman, Thomas & Battle note the
NYDEC had claimed the one-year time
92 THE AMERICAN OIL & GAS REPORTER

frame did not begin to toll until
Millennium's application was complete,
which it contended was not because its
environmental assessment did not
consider downstream greenhouse gas
emissions that could occur as a result of
the pipeline's supply to consumers.
However, in the majority opinion for
New York State DEC v. FERC, Circuit
Judge José Cabranes wrote, "We
conclude that the DEC waived its
authority to review Millennium's request
for a water quality certificate . . . by
failing to act on that request within one
year," according to published reports.
"FERC does have jurisdiction over
the pipeline," Cabranes concluded.
A Bloomberg report quotes
ClearView Energy Partners Managing
Director Christi Tezak saying the ruling
"does provide certainty about what the
timeline is," and that the decision may
make it more difficult to block pipelines
by withholding permits. r

Trump Administration
Agrees To Revise Rules
On Critical ESA Habitat
MONTGOMERY, AL.-The Trump
administration has yielded to pressure
from 20 states and agreed to reconsider
rules that restrict property owners' land
use. The rules were changed by
President Barack Obama to expand the
federal government's authority to
designate areas as critical habitat under
the Endangered Species Act.
According to Alabama Attorney
General Steve Marshall, the Obama-era
rules were not only wildly
unreasonable, but contrary to both the
spirit and letter of ESA, and also
violated provisions of the
Administrative Procedure Act.
In 2016, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service and the National Marine
Fisheries Service unveiled rules that
allowed the designation of land as
critical habitat for an endangered
species, even if the species was not
present on that acreage and it lacked
the biological features needed to
support the species (AOGR, January
2016, pg. 151).
Alabama sued in the U.S. District
Court for the Southern District of
Alabama, alleging the rules were an
illegal federal overreach. The lawsuit was
joined by 19 states and four trade

associations. The lawsuit was temporarily
stayed in February 2017 to allow the
Trump administration and the states to
coordinate efforts to revise the
regulations (AOGR, March 2017, pg. 20).
To settle the lawsuit, the White
House has agreed to have the two
agencies submit revised rules for public
review, Marshall's office says.
"We are encouraged that the Trump
administration has agreed to revisit these
rules, which threaten property owners'
rights to use any land that the federal
government could dream that an
endangered species might ever inhabit,"
he says. "Congress purposely set a
stricter standard for when unoccupied
land could be classified as critical
habitat, and that is only if the current
inhabited land is not adequate to the
species' survival and the unoccupied
land is essential to preserve the species."
The Obama revisions allowed the
federal government to prevent activities
it decided could adversely affect habitat
features that don't actually exist,
Marshall points out. The states' lawsuit
posed as a hypothetical example
Washington declaring a desert as critical
habitat for an endangered fish and
preventing highway construction
through desert lands under the theory
that it would prevent the future
formation of a stream that might one
day support the species.
Joining Alabama in the suit were
Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado,
Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan,
Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New
Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, South
Carolina, Texas, West Virginia,
Wisconsin and Wyoming. r

Court Says EPA Must
Make Ozone Decisions
SAN FRANCISCO-A federal judge
in San Francisco has ordered the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency to
designate nonattainment areas under its
2015 70 parts per billion National
Ambient Air Quality Standards for
ozone by April 30.
According to published reports,
Judge Haywood Stirling Gilliam Jr. of
the U.S. District Court for the Northern
District of California issued the order
on March 12.
Last June, EPA Administrator Scott
Pruitt advised states he intended to push
back the date for implementing the



American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018

Contents
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