The 2020 Babst Calland Report Highlights Legal and Regulatory Challenges for the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry
PITTSBURGH – Babst Calland today published its 10th annual energy industry report: The 2020 Babst Calland Report – The U.S. Oil & Gas Industry: Federal, State, Local Challenges & Opportunities; Legal and Regulatory Perspective for Producers and Midstream Operators.
In this Report more than 50 energy attorneys provide perspective on the current state of the U.S. natural gas and oil production industry and its growth to historic highs due to more than a decade of advances in on-shore horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing. It asserts that despite current challenges, a maturing shale industry is poised for future growth as natural gas and oil producers have driven down the costs of production. Transportation options for moving these natural resources from growing areas of production to customers continue to be built, even with new hurdles from regulators and other stakeholders.
Joseph K. Reinhart, shareholder and co-chair of Babst Calland’s Energy and Natural Resources Group, said, “The U.S. natural gas and oil industry has experienced tremendous growth and change since we first published this Report in 2011. Fast forward to an unprecedented 2020 with a pandemic, a corresponding economic slow-down and oversupply of natural gas and crude oil. With increased public and government pressure, sustained low prices, and less-reliable financing options, resiliency will continue to be the driving force of a dynamic energy market that continues to evolve.
The Babst Calland Report is an annual review of the issues and trends at the federal, state and local level in the oil and gas industry over the past year. The 102-page Report covers a range of topics from the industry’s business outlook, regulatory enforcement and rulemaking to developments in pipeline safety and litigation trends. The Firm’s collective legal experience and perspectives on these and related business developments are highlighted in this Report, including those summarized below:
- Long-term, U.S. energy production appears poised to continue to outstrip domestic consumption due in some measure to increased consumption efficiency, along with the obvious ramifications from the natural gas revolution.
- The regulatory environment is focused on climate change, reducing emissions, water quality developments, and enforcement. Increased volumes of written agency guidance, enforcement, and penalties continue to challenge the industry.
- Citizens groups continue to actively challenge federal and state initiatives designed to expand natural gas and oil development, creating delays and uncertainties.
- Land use and zoning challenges continue at the local level. Increasing industry headwinds have resulted in a slowdown of new permitting activity amid ongoing challenges and ordinance restrictions.
- Public interest in pipeline safety has grown amid opposition and new rules from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in response to increased public and congressional pressure to initiate and finalize new or revised pipeline safety regulations. Operators seek to install new or replace existing pipelines throughout the U.S. while advocacy groups aggressively oppose many pipeline projects.
- Title legislation and court decisions vary by state and basin. In Pennsylvania, for example, Act 85 took effect in January 2020 and defines the conditions in which oil and gas producers may drill a lateral wellbore that crosses between two or more pooled units.
- Although 2019 saw renewed claims of adverse health effects allegedly related to oil and gas development, support for such claims continues to be limited, as now noted by numerous publications.
- Unmanned aircraft systems take hold in the energy sector. Despite the pandemic and its impacts, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have emerged as essential tools for the energy industry for conducting complex inspection and monitoring of difficult to access infrastructure and locations.
- From a workforce standpoint, COVID-19 conditions and other wage and hour regulations, amendments to the Family Medical Leave Act, and expanded unemployment benefits under the CARES Act have had an impact on companies across the country.
The natural gas and oil industry continues to expand its reach and impact on U.S. energy supply and independence. Each company has its own set of opportunities and challenges to navigate based on its financing, debt, shareholder goals, and operations and infrastructure footprint. Nonetheless, the United States’ plentiful supply of natural gas and oil is expected to continue to fuel the country’s economic future and support national security.
Request a copy of the Report
Babst Calland’s Energy and Natural Resources attorneys support clients operating in multiple locations throughout the nation’s shale plays. To request a copy of the Report, contact email@example.com.
Babst Calland Lands 2024 Space Mission Legal Work for Astrobotic
PITTSBURGH, PA – Babst Calland today announced that under a recently announced NASA award, Astrobotic Technologies, Inc. (Astrobotic) has selected the firm to develop what could become the first-of-its-kind blueprint for commercial payload delivery to space for the Artemis human missions as well as future human-crewed space missions.
Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic will be developing the commercial payload service for Dynetics (a Leidos subsidiary), one of three prime contractors (alongside SpaceX and Blue Origin) selected by NASA to design and build a commercial Human Landing System (HLS) and compete to build a privately-developed system to take the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024 as part of the NASA Artemis program.
“As the leading lunar payload delivery provider, we are thrilled to begin setting up this new business model onboard the Dynetics human lander,” said Astrobotic CEO John Thornton. “With payload expertise from our Peregrine and Griffin lunar lander programs, we are well-positioned to extend our payload services to include the new lunar lander. We’re helping to develop and set the standard for the commercial payload market, and that is very exciting,” added Thornton.
Dynetics is leading a broad coalition of industry partners, including Astrobotic, to not only send humans back to the lunar surface, but to also help companies, governments, universities, and nonprofits across the globe send non-human payloads onboard the Artemis Human Lander System. Such payloads can include critical instruments, project and infrastructure products and materials that can support human activities on the lunar surface.
“Helping to launch this new mission to the Moon and to develop the commercial, policy and regulatory framework for its payload delivery business is an exciting opportunity for Astrobotic, all of its partners, and for our team of attorneys at Babst Calland, “ said Justine M. Kasznica, Outside General Counsel for Astrobotic, and Chair of the Firm’s Emerging Technologies practice.
“It’s exciting to be a part of such a groundbreaking opportunity as a legal partner to Astrobotic,” said Donald C. Bluedorn II, Managing Shareholder at Babst Calland. “We are thrilled to be involved in this important role for our national space program.”
Babst Calland Names Felezzola a Shareholder
Marc Felezzola is a member of the Litigation and Construction groups. He has extensive experience in cases involving the Pennsylvania’s Mechanics’ Lien Law, Commonwealth Procurement Code and the Contractor and Subcontractor Payment Act. Mr. Felezzola serves as outside general counsel for construction companies and frequently represents clients in a variety of commercial and construction related disputes including products liability claims, asbestos related claims, construction bid protests, construction defect claims, differing site condition claims, delay and inefficiency claims, payment and performance bond claims, and payment and contract performance disputes. Mr. Felezzola has litigated before the Pennsylvania trial level and appellate courts, the United States Federal District Courts for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Northern District of West Virginia and the District of New Jersey, the American Arbitration Association, and other private dispute resolution forums.
Mr. Felezzola is a 2011 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Babst Calland Attorney Jean M. Mosites Appointed to the EHB Rules Committee
The Rules Committee reviews and makes recommendations regarding procedural rules for matters brought before the EHB. The Committee consists of nine attorneys who are in good standing before the Bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and who have practiced before the Board for a minimum of three years or who have comparable experience.
As a shareholder in Babst Calland’s Environmental and Energy and Natural Resources practice groups, Ms. Mosites has extensive experience representing clients in administrative appeals and environmental litigation in state and federal courts and before the Environmental Hearing Board in Pennsylvania, as well as counseling on environmental compliance and resolving liabilities under federal and state law.
Christian Farmakis Featured Speaker at Dealmakers Conference
The conference will feature middle-market CEOs, top private equity and venture capital firms, major lenders and leading service providers participating in sessions that cover the breadth of the merger and acquisition landscape addressing such topics as buying a business, selling a business, financing a deal, liquidity events, merging operations, alternative investing and more.
Attorney Christian A. Farmakis will join a group of recognized entrepreneurs and business experts in discussing Transaction Audits: How to prepare your company for any type of deal.
For more information about the Dealmakers conference, or to register to attend, visit: https://www.smartbusinessdealmakers.com/pittsburgh//event/
Elizabeth A. Dupuis named to Pennsylvania Business Central’s “Top 100 People”
Betsy Dupuis has practiced law in Central Pennsylvania since 1997, most recently as Managing Shareholder at law firm Babst Calland’s State College office. Her practice focuses on real estate transactions, business planning and formation, commercial and contract litigation, estate planning and administration. She is also a licensed title agent in Pennsylvania and conducts commercial real estate closings through MidState Closing Company, a Babst Calland affiliate.
Among other honors, she is a graduate of Leadership Centre County and was recognized by LCC with the Community Leadership Association’s Distinguished Leader Award. She is the incoming chair for the National Association of Home Builders Legal Action Committee. She presently serves on the boards of the Centre County Chamber of Business and Industry (CBICC), the Central Pennsylvania Risk Management Association, and the Pennsylvania Builders Association. She is a past Chair of the Centre County United Way and the Palmer Museum of Art Gala.
She was recently re-appointed for a second four-year term as Solicitor for Centre County.
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Babst Calland Names Hicks Shareholder
Jennifer Hicks is a member of the Litigation, Environmental, Employment and Labor, and Energy and Natural Resources groups. Ms. Hicks has represented clients in a wide variety of litigation matters in state and federal courts throughout West Virginia. These include breach of contract, employment, environmental, nuisance, trespass, property damage, premises liability, product liability, consumer protection, partition, unknown heirs, criminal, and landlord-tenant, among others. Ms. Hicks has both trial and appellate court experience, including jury trials, and has also litigated before administrative agencies.
Ms. Hicks is a 2010 graduate of the West Virginia University College of Law.
Babst Calland Expands Environmental Practice
PITTSBURGH, PA – Babst Calland announced today the addition of veteran environmental attorney, Richard S. Wiedman, who joined as a shareholder at the Firm’s Pittsburgh headquarters.
Mr. Wiedman is joining Babst Calland’s team of highly-focused environmental attorneys in providing senior-level legal and regulatory counsel, particularly in the areas of environmental, permitting, environmental business counseling, and environmental litigation.
“We are very pleased to welcome Rick to our Firm and to our established team in Pittsburgh. I have known Rick for over 30 years and he is a natural fit for us as he shares our values, experience, and philosophy in serving clients, some with whom we already have existing relationships,” said Donald C. Bluedorn II, Managing Shareholder of Babst Calland. “Rick is a great addition as we continue to expand Babst Calland’s team and capabilities to serve the needs of existing and new clients across the country.”
Since 1980, Mr. Wiedman has represented clients before federal and state environmental agencies, and counseled clients on regulatory compliance issues and environmental considerations in a variety of business transactions. He also devotes significant time to the negotiation and prosecution of environmental permit and regulatory challenges, the defense of federal and state enforcement actions, and the representation of clients in remedial action/corrective action and cost recovery matters under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and their state counterparts.
His experience reflects the interrelationship of the major regulatory programs as they pertain to industrial activities. Many of the projects with which he is involved require the coordination of multidisciplinary efforts where creative engineering and technical approaches are often critical to the development and success of legal and regulatory strategy. In this regard, he works closely with experts and outside consultants in diverse fields including engineering design, analytical and applied chemistry, hydro-geology, marine biology, meteorology, and computer dispersion modeling.
Commenting about his lateral move to the Firm, Mr. Wiedman said, “I am pleased to be joining Babst Calland’s well-established environmental team representing industry. It is an exciting time for me to become part of a nationally-recognized firm grounded in environmental law.”
Mr. Wiedman earned his B.A. from Tufts University and his J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Law.