Letters & Comments

Infrastructure, Letters and Comments Nov 16, 2020

The Waters Advocacy Coalition (“WAC” or “Coalition”) offers the following comments on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (“Corps”) Proposal to Reissue and Modify Nationwide Permits, 85 Fed. Reg. 57,298 (Sept. 15, 2020). WAC represents a large cross-section of America’s construction, transportation, real estate, mining, manufacturing, forestry, agriculture, energy, wildlife conservation, and public health and safety sectors—all of which are vital to a thriving economy and provide much-needed jobs.1 WAC members’ activities, projects, and operations are often subject to regulation under Clean Water Act (“CWA”) section 404, 33 U.S.C. § 1344, and Coalition members frequently rely on nationwide permits (“NWPs”) to comply with the CWA. WAC’s comments on the Corps’ proposal are limited to ensuring consistency between the NWPs and the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (“NWPR”) that the Corps and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized earlier this year.

I. The Coalition Supports the NWP Program, Which Furthers Congress’s Intent to Allow the Corps to Focus Its Limited Resources on Activities Resulting in More than Minimal Impacts.

II. The Corps Should Clarify Certain Definitions and Concepts Related to the NWPR.

III. The Proposed Revision to General Condition 23 (Mitigation) Is Not Necessary to Ensure No More than Minimal Adverse Impacts.

IV . Conclusion

WAC appreciates the opportunity to submit these comments. Subject to the requested clarifications above, WAC generally supports the Corps’ proposal to reissue NWPs, which would continue to carry out Congress’s intent to allow more streamlined section 404 permitting for activities that have minimal adverse environmental effects. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the undersigned.

Infrastructure, Letters and Comments Nov 16, 2020

“The Associations” together represent a broad spectrum of the oil and natural gas industry, including but not limited to entities involved In upstream, midstream, downstream refining, marketing, and petrochemical operations as well as market development/Liquified Natural Gas (“LNG”) activities. We are pleased to submit comments on the proposal to reissue and modify Nationwide Permits (“NWPs”) (“Proposal”) by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”).

Our comments represent a thorough assessment of the NWPs significant to our industry, as well as a comprehensive review of over 40 states’ regional conditions. Our comments contain extensive citations to the current proposal, applicable statutes and regulations, relevant case law, and an annex encompassing our District submissions regarding the proposed regional conditions in 44 states and 2 U.S. territories. To aid review, we have included a concise Executive Summary, as well as a Table of Contents with helpful headings.

While we support the NWP program as essential to the U.S. economy and a strong motivator for developers to design projects In a way that reduces environmental impacts, we regrettably cannot support the proposed division of NWP 12 Into three separate permits. The proposed division contains multiple fundamental definitional issues that will certainly confuse both applicants and USACE staff. Moreover, the varying conditions in the federal proposal and multiple USACE Districts validate this confusion, and could be vulnerable to arbitrary and capriciousness challenges because the same 12-inch pipe (with similar and often indistinguishable impacts to aquatic resources within the USACE’s jurisdiction) would be treated differently based solely on the contents of that pipe (which is outside the jurisdiction of the USACE). Finally, the economics support a single combined permit – as the USACE’s proposal Identified no cost savings from the division and seems to have significantly underestimated the costs associated with implementing a division based on ambiguous definitions and a lack of clarity among districts as well as even among individual states within districts. We therefore believe the most expeditious route for the USACE to address these deficiencies is to simply reissue the 2017 version of NWP 12 for all utility lines with a new effective date, and we urge the USACE to do so without delay.

Infrastructure, Letters and Comments Nov 16, 2020

IPAA submitted supplemental comments to the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on November 16 in response to PHMSA’s Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) discussion of proposed regulatory reform, which included regulation of farm taps. Submitting as “Indicated Producers,” IPAA was joined by the Kentucky Oil & Gas Association, the Ohio Oil & Gas Association, Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association, the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, the Virginia Oil and Gas Association, and the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia.

In the comments, the Indicated Producers noted “support [for] PHMSA in its efforts to align regulatory responsibilities with the safe operation of pipeline facilities. However, Indicated Producers urge PHMSA to recognize the significant differences between privately-owned farm taps, governed by contract or statute, and true distribution systems.”  The comments urged PHMSA to make that distinction in pending Frequently Asked Questions, in future proceedings, or in the pending Regulatory Reform rule. Recognizing this significant distinction “will help achieve regulatory reform without interfering with existing contracts and/or state statutes and will better align regulatory responsibility without sacrificing public safety.”

Letters and Comments Nov 9, 2020

On November 9, IPAA, in partnership with API, Western Energy Alliance, and other allied trades submitted comments to the record for the Trump Administration rule rewrites on Oil and Gas Site Security, Oil Measurement, and Gas Measurement Regulations. These Onshore Orders were revised during the Obama Administration without taking into consideration the full scope that the rules would impose collectively.  The Trump administration rewrite brings the regulations back in line with accepted standards and looks at onshore orders holistically, not individually.

Letters and Comments Sep 4, 2020

This letter provides comments from the American Petroleum Institute (“API”) and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (“IPAA”) (collectively, “the Associations”) in response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (“FWS’s”) and National Marine Fisheries Service’s (“NMFS’s”) (collectively “the Services”) proposal to define “habitat” in the Services’ regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act (“ESA” or “the Act”). The Associations appreciate the opportunity to submit comments on this important effort to develop a regulatory definition to an undefined statutory term, and to do so in a way that can help ensure that the Services’ critical habitat designations are clear, transparent, and consistent with the ESA’s requirements.

Letters and Comments Aug 10, 2020

IPAA, along with a number of state oil and gas associations, submitted comments on the Natural Gas Regulatory Reform notice of proposed rulemaking issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). IPAA’s comments focus on actions PHMSA can take to remove burdensome, inefficient regulation of farm taps, which PHMSA classifies as distribution lines. These comments follow June comments on PHMSA’s proposed responses to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding farm taps. While it is unlikely that the regulatory reform rule could be finalized within this current Administration, IPAA is pushing PHMSA to address our concerns in finalizing the FAQs, which can be done more expeditiously.  These FAQs would not have the force of regulation, but would provide guidance to inspectors.

Letters and Comments Jul 30, 2020


The undersigned organizations urge you to support the timely, targeted, and temporary liability relief provisions contained in S. 4317, the “SAFE TO WORK Act.” These crucial protections would safeguard healthcare workers, providers, and facilities, as well as businesses, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions against unfair lawsuits so they can continue to contribute to a safe and effective economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation is critically needed and should be enacted as soon as possible. To that end, we strongly urge you to support the inclusion of these provisions in a Phase IV COVID-19 relief package.

Letters and Comments Jul 23, 2020

IPAA was one of 41 organizations to sign a coalition letter organized by the U.S. Chamber that was sent to congressional offices today stating strong opposition an appropriations bill (H.R. 7608) amendment prohibiting funding to implement CEQ’s NEPA final rulemaking that was announced last week. The signers of the letter show how broad support is for NEPA reform, with groups ranging far beyond energy, including organizations that represent many sectors of agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and transportation.

The letter reads:
“The undersigned trade associations and labor unions oppose amendment #72 to Division C of H.R. 7608, the first package of appropriations legislation that would block implementation of recently completed reforms to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. These important reforms will ensure a federal permitting process that is predictable and transparent, where “go” or “no go” decisions are made in a reasonable timeframe, and facilitates getting Americans back to work rebuilding critical infrastructure that will move people, goods, energy and information. …
“The NEPA updates are critically important to a broad group of stakeholders including agriculture, construction, manufacturing, building trades unions, renewable and conventional energy, surface transportation, and broadband. We remain committed to working with legislators, regulators, and all stakeholders to return NEPA to its original intent-a timely and focused review of environmental impacts-rather than a tool to delay projects for years and even decades. We urge you to oppose any amendment to FY2021 appropriations language such as amendment #72 that would block these important NEPA updates.”

Letters and Comments Jul 23, 2020

“The undersigned trade associations and labor unions oppose amendment #72 to Division C of H.R. 7608, the first package of appropriations legislation that would block implementation of recently completed reforms to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. These important reforms will ensure a federal permitting process that is predictable and transparent, where “go” or “no go” decisions are made in a reasonable timeframe, and facilitates getting Americans back to work rebuilding critical infrastructure that will move people, goods, energy and information. . …

Endangered Species, Letters and Comments Jul 20, 2020

IPAA members take species conservation seriously and work actively to protect the environment and habitats where they operate and live. Many independent companies have Fish and Wildlife-approved Avian Protection Plans and have spent millions on the conservation of listed and candidate species. Many other industries, such as wind and electric transmission companies, share this commitment, but face legal ramifications due to expanded interpretation of the MBTA. Finalizing a regulation that affirms the Solicitor’s Opinion, M-37050, is an important step to clarify the legal role of the MBTA to support species protection, while limiting inappropriate legal impacts on otherwise lawful activities from an array of industries. For this reason, IPAA is supportive of the Services’ preferred Alternative A approach which is consistent with the Solicitor’s legal analysis of the scope of the MBTA. Promulgating regulations that define the scope of MBTA to prohibit incidental take actions brings the regulation closer to the original intent of the law, as passed by Congress.

IPAA is the industry's strongest presence in the nation's capital and these are important times. The entire oil and gas industry remains under fire from anti-development groups; but with these challenges arise unique opportunities that IPAA is seizing for our members.