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Clock ticking on gas storage rule; Feds unlikely to take action on fracking

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Clock ticking on gas storage rule; Feds unlikely to take action on fracking

Underground gas storage operators will have 1 year to follow new federal rules

Gas storage operators will have a year to implement a federal regulator's first set of rules governing underground storage fields, spurred by the multimonth leak at the Aliso Canyon facility in California.

The interim final regulation, issued Dec. 14 by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, incorporates by reference two of the American Petroleum Institute's recommended standard practices. The standards explain how operators should manage underground storage facilities' integrity with regular and site-appropriate monitoring, maintenance and remediation practices. These guidelines, called recommended practices 1170 and 1171, deal with gas storage in salt caverns and depleted reservoirs, respectively.

Storage operators will have 12 months from the rule's effective date to meet all the operating, maintenance, integrity demonstration and verification, monitoring, threat and hazard identification, assessment, remediation, site security, emergency response and preparedness, and record-keeping components of the API recommended practices, PHSMA said.

EPA study may be end of the trail for feds on fracking

The U.S. EPA's final study on hydraulic fracturing pleased no one, but probably marked the end of federal interest in an extraction process regulated primarily by the states, said Washington, D.C., policy and investment analysts after the report's Dec. 13 release.

What the study will not do is propel more EPA interest in fracking unless there is a large disaster. This throws the issue back to the states, many of which are ahead of Washington on the issue, the analysts said.

"Although today's report appears superficially less favorable than its predecessor, we do not regard it as likely to precipitate further federal regulatory risk," Clearview Energy Partners Managing Director Kevin Book said.

Seeking fast track to export, LNG industry likes sound of Energy Secretary Perry

President-elect Donald Trump's pick to head the U.S. Department of Energy could be in a position to help U.S. LNG exports, including streamlining the agency's approval process, a number of industry advocates said.

Trump on Dec. 14 formally announced his selection of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who would bring to the office a history of supporting domestic oil and natural gas growth. While FERC is responsible for the permitting of LNG projects, it is the Energy Department that approves the liquid fuel to be shipped overseas.

Only Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Louisiana exports natural gas, after the project's first two liquefaction trains came online earlier in the year. For other projects, receiving Energy Department authorization to ship to countries with which the U.S. does not have a free trade agreement will be a critical step in determining their ability to compete in a potentially crowded market.

ETP's Rover gas pipeline secures Pa. clean water permit

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection approved Energy Transfer Partners LP's proposed Rover natural gas pipeline project for a Clean Water Act certificate, in spite of federal environmental concerns.

In a Dec. 8 filing with FERC, the department's Southwest Regional Office said it granted the project a Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certification. The decision is conditional on the project meeting final state water quality certification requirements.