The Marcellus Shale, currently the hottest natural gas play in North America, could contain more than 500 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. The opportunities associated with developing a shale play of that magnitude are abundant. Along with these opportunities are numerous concerns such as the technical challenges of drilling, environmental regulation, legal issues such as surface and land use rights, the legislative landscape, and financing alternatives.
K&L Gates has represented clients in the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and New York for decades. Our oil and gas practice is built on a sophisticated and detailed understanding of the legal aspects of exploring for, producing, transporting, storing, marketing, and processing natural gas, coal bed methane, and oil. Our oil and gas team is experienced in all areas of law associated with the development of the Marcellus Shale including:
K&L Gates’ oil and gas team includes lawyers licensed to practice in the active areas of the Appalachian region, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and New York. Several of our partners have extensive prior experience in serving with governmental agencies, including the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP), the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These lawyers also have long-standing relationships with many public officials, including governors, senators, and congressmen, and include former members of the Pennsylvania cabinet in legislative affairs.
We have represented industry interests in a series of key court cases including Kilmer v. Elexco Land Services Company, 63 MAP 2009; Range Resources—Appalachia, LLC, et al. v. Salem Township, et al., 600 Pa. 231 (2009); Belden & Blake Corp. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Dep’t of Conservation and Natural Resources, 600 Pa. 559 (2009). These cases deal with such important issues as: (a) state-required minimum royalties affected by post-production charges, (b) claims of fraudulent inducement to vitiate Marcellus Shale leases, (c) lease contests with respect to implied covenants to develop Marcellus Shale zones, (d) the scope of preemption as to municipal regulation of oil and gas development, and (e) state and federal regulation of natural gas development on public lands where the governmental units do not own or control the mineral rights. The questions confronted in these cases will set the framework for many future development efforts.
Environmental issues continue to affect development of the Marcellus Shale play and K&L Gates counsels its clients through regulatory, permitting, and enforcement proceedings involving PaDEP, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), New York State Department of Conservation (NYSDEC), Ohio EPA, and U.S. EPA, as well as the DRBC, SRBC, and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC). Issues include new and existing regulations, policies, guidance, or permitting approaches affecting air emissions, water use and reuse, waste treatment and disposal, radiological concerns, surface impoundments, pipelines, stream crossings, and threatened and endangered species.
We also assist our clients in enactment of new and amended municipal and township ordinances that allow predictable and efficient development while recognizing the limited role of local government.