August 18, 2019

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National Park Service Proposes Sweeping Changes to Oil and Gas Regulations

The National Park Service (“NPS”) today proposed a major overhaul of its regulations for non-federal oil and gas operations in National Park units.  See 80 Fed. Reg. 65,572 (Oct. 26, 2015). Although the NPS press statement downplayed the significance of the proposal, the new rule would remake a regulatory system that has been in place for almost 40 years. The costs of compliance, particularly to existing oil and gas operations, could be substantial. 

Current NPS regulations only apply when “access is on, across or through federally owned or controlled lands or waters.” The proposal would eliminate this limitation so that current operations located outside NPS units that directionally drill into minerals beneath NPS lands would be subject to the new NPS rules. Perhaps most significantly, the proposal would subject operators currently exempt from NPS regulation to new federal reporting and operational requirements. About half of the 534 non-federal oil and gas operations on NPS lands are currently exempt from direct NPS regulation. Under the new proposal, NPS would subject all of these “grandfathered” operations to a host of new, potentially duplicative or inconsistent federal regulations while leaving them subject to original state controls. Chief among these are enhanced financial assurance (bonding) requirements, and a suite of new hydraulic fracturing regulations similar to those issued by the Bureau of Land Management in March 2015. Those rules were challenged by industry and are currently enjoined nationwide.  

The 60-day public comment period on the NPS proposed rule closes on December 28, 2015.  

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About this Author

Peter Schaumberg, Environmental Attorney, Beveridge and Diamond Law Firm
Principal

Peter J. Schaumberg's practice focuses on issues related to development of energy and mineral resources on Federal lands offshore and onshore.  He counsels major multinational corporations, domestic companies, and leading industry trade associations regarding development and operations on the Outer Continental Shelf and on Federally-managed lands onshore, including oil & gas, solar, wind and geothermal resources.  Mr. Schaumberg also advises mining company and trade association clients on matters related to development of hard-rock mineral resources on public lands.  He is a highly...

(202) 789-6043
James M. Auslander, Environmental Law Attorney, Beveridge Diamond Law Firm
Principal

James (Jamie) Auslander’s legal practice focuses on environmental, natural resources, and administrative law and litigation.  Mr. Auslander represents numerous major and small businesses, trade associations, and state agencies in a wide range of regulatory and litigation matters, both national and local in scope.  He serves clients in all phases of a case, including internal compliance, administrative proceedings and negotiations, and litigation when necessary.

Mr. Auslander devotes a significant part of his practice to counseling and litigation under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and similar state laws.  He has represented public and private clients in building strong administrative records and robust NEPA analyses to support complex projects and proposals.  For example, Mr. Auslander was integral in crafting and implementing a successful strategy to construct a major new highway in the Washington, D.C. area that presented NEPA and other environmental issues that many felt were impossible to resolve.  He also advises a biotechnology company regarding the NEPA sufficiency of petitions to commercialize genetically modified crop seeds.  Further, Mr. Auslander represents an industry association in a NEPA matter involving modes of recreation in national parks.

202-789-6009
John Cossa, Environmental Attorney, Beveridge and Diamond Law Firm
Associate

John Cossa’s practice focuses on issues related to the development of energy and mineral resources on federally-managed lands. He advises clients on matters related to the leasing and development of oil and gas, wind, solar, and mineral resources both onshore and on the Outer Continental Shelf. Mr. Cossa also counsels clients on compliance with applicable operations, environmental, and safety regulations, agency notices and orders.

(202) 789-6093