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Spilman Files Suit Against USEPA to Protect Interests of Natural Gas Industry

10/23/2012

New Air Regulations Could Unfairly Burden Smaller Producers

Charleston, W.Va. —The law firm Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC (Spilman) announced that it recently filed suit in D.C. Circuit Court against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on behalf of several oil and natural gas associations throughout the eastern United States. The action challenges EPA’s recently promulgated air regulations that unjustly require controls on natural gas producers, particularly smaller producers.

“The new rules and regulations were not based on data representing smaller, independent producers, and they will be disproportionately impacted as a result of the EPA’s rush to judgment,” said James D. Elliott, counsel in Spilman’s Harrisburg, Pa. area office. “Despite acknowledging the wide variation in emission profiles from basin to basin and even within the same basin, the EPA promulgated a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to wells based on an industry-wide average. Such an approach unfairly hurts the smaller, independent producers.”

The Petition for Review, filed on behalf of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, Kentucky Oil & Gas Association, Indiana Oil and Gas Association, Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association, Ohio Oil and Gas Association, and Illinois Oil & Gas Association (Petitioners), asks the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the EPA’s Final Rule, “Oil and Gas Sector: New Source Performance Standards and National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants Reviews” (Final Rule). The Final Rule, in part, is the result of a lawsuit brought by the Wildearth Guardians against the EPA in 2009 that resulted in arbitrary deadlines by which the agency was required to abide.

Specifically, the Petitioners question the highly complex and technical “low pressure gas well” definition, which was not subject to public review and comment prior to its adoption, included in the Final Rule. The Petitioners believe the definition will exclude many gas wells drilled in formations that historically have been recognized as “low pressure”. Additionally, the Petitioners assert that the EPA’s evaluation of the economic impact of new standards for hydraulically fractured natural gas well completions, also included in the Final Rule, does not reflect proper consideration of the disproportionate burden that compliance will have on smaller producers.

In addition to Elliott, the environmental litigation team working on this matter includes M. Ann Bradley, James S. Crockett, Jr. and M. Katherine Crockett of the firm’s Charleston, W.Va. office. Spilman also has offices in Morgantown and Wheeling, W.Va.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Winston-Salem, N.C.; and Roanoke, Va. Founded in 1864, Spilman is a full-service law firm with more than 145 attorneys.

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Michael J. Basile / Responsible Attorney
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