FEDERAL - JUDICIAL: BLM Leasing – Washington, DC. On January 9, environmental activists filed suit against the Interior Department and BLM challenging the BLM’s approval of 2,067 oil and gas leases encompassing almost two million acres of public lands across five western states—Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. According to the complaint, in WildEarth Guardians v. Bernhardt (Case No. 1:20-cv-00056), the BLM approved the leases at issue “without fully analyzing the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of oil and gas leasing on our climate in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).” This case comes as the Trump administration is finalizing rulemaking to relax NEPA climate analysis reviews when approving federal infrastructure and oil and gas leasing projects. The government has yet to respond to the lawsuit. Read more.STATE - LEGISLATIVE: Expedited Permitting – West Virginia. On January 15, HB 4091 passed the House Energy Committee following its introduction. The purpose of the bill, introduced by Del. William Anderson (R), “is to allow for expedited oil and gas well permitting and expedited oil and gas well permit modifications upon the payment of applicable expedited fees, the designation of the proceeds of such expedited fees, and the daily pro rata refund of the expedited fees if the permit is not approved between the 45th and 60th days after the submission of a permit application, and daily pro rata refund of one-half of the modification fees between the 10th and 20th days after the submission of a permit modification application; all generally related to horizontal well oil and gas permitting.” Read more.
INDUSTRY NEWS: New record: Texas oil and gas industry paid $16.3 billion in taxes and royalties. On January 14, the Texas Oil & Gas Association (TXOGA) reported that the Texas oil and natural gas industry paid more than $16 billion in state and local taxes and state royalties in fiscal year 2019 – the highest total in Texas history. “Continuous innovation and policies that encourage safe, responsible energy development are driving our nation, our state and our communities to new heights,” said TXOGA President Todd Staples. Read more.