A public hearing is scheduled for Monday (Sept. 22) from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. CDT at the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) office in Austin to review proposed changes to Texas Administrative Code Title 16, Part 1, Chapter 3. The proposed amendments to §3.70 of that chapter prescribe the procedure by which a pipeline operator may identify itself as a common carrier, gas utility, or private line operator when applying for a new T-4 permit to operate a pipeline or when renewing, amending, or cancelling an existing T-4 permit (see Daily GPI, July 23). The designation affects whether a pipeline developer may exercise eminent domain. Texas landowners have complained that it has been too easy for pipelines to exercise eminent domain and stricter rules are needed, while industry has said the proposed rule changes are a regulatory burden. The proposed rule amendments were published in the July 25 issue of the Texas Register. For more information, contact Cristina Self in the office of general counsel, (512) 463-2299; or Polly McDonald in the pipeline safety division, (512) 463-7008. The status of RRC rulemakings in progress is available at: www.rrc.state.tx.us/legal/rules/proposed-rules.
The state of Alaska has filed a motion for summary judgment in its ongoing litigation in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska to order the federal government to allow exploration inside the coastal plain, or Section 1002 area, of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (see Daily GPI, March 14). The motion challenges the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's (FWS) refusal to consider the state's geophysical exploration plan for the coastal plain. The state has maintained that exploration of the area was mandated by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and is authorized by existing law. Conversely, the Obama administration has claimed that the FWS has no authority to review the state's plan, it and therefore has refused to consider it. The exploration plan was submitted to the U.S. Department of Interior in July 2013 and complies with all existing FWS regulations, according to Alaska. The plan calls for using three-dimensional seismic imaging to gain information about the extent and accessibility of the oil and gas resources in the Section 1002 area.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said Monday that his state has challenged a recent Oregon decision to block a proposed coal port, alleging that the action violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael appealed Oregon’s decision to deny a permit for an export facility that would ship coal from Wyoming's Powder River Basin to Asia. Ambre Energy, the project proponent, and Port of Morrow also have appealed the Oregon Department of State Land's decision to reject an application from Ambre to build a dock at the port’s Coyote Island facilities in Boardman, OR. The dock would be used to load barges with up to 8.8 million tons of coal/year for delivery to larger export shipping vessels. Wyoming’s appeal is of the decision denying Amber's application for a removal-fill permit. The Oregon Office of Administrative Hearings has jurisdiction. Wyoming asserts that Oregon’s decision to deny this permit is based on its dislike of a specific commodity, coal, and that Oregon did not base its decision on the factors it must consider under law. Wyoming asserts that this action impacts interstate and foreign commerce and comes at great cost to taxpayers in coal producing states. “Coal is the fastest growing fuel source in the world and this decision by Oregon prevents Wyoming coal producers from competing in that marketplace,” Mead said.