Environmental Law in the Oil & Gas Field
LAW 5397
Fall 2017

Environmental Law in the Oil & Gas Field
LAW 5397

Fall 2017
Room BLB 144



No. Date Topics Guest Speaker(s) Readings Comments
1. Aug. 21, 2017

No class. I'll be returning from travel.


No readings

2. Aug. 23, 2017

Introduction and Orientation


Powerpoint (.pdf)


Short Course Description

  Aug. 28 - Aug. 30, 2017 Classes cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey      
  Sept. 4, 2017 Labor Day Holiday      
3. Sept. 6, 2017 Oil Field Fundamentals Prof. Bret Wells

Any reading materials assigned by Prof. Wells will be distributed before class and here.

Corbello: The Aftermath

Drilling for Damages by William Keffer

Powerpoint (.pdf)



4. Sept. 11, 2017 Tort Remedies and Common Contamination Issues in the Oil Field  

A Survey of Typical Claims and Key Defenses in Recent Hydraulic Fracturing Litigation

Powerpoint (.pdf)


The Last Stage of an Oil Field: Getting Sued
5. Sept. 13, 2017

How Clean is Clean? Factors Influencing common law claims v statutory claims.


TRRP Overview

Exxon Corp. v. Taco Cabana

Powerpoint (.pdf)



6. Sept. 18, 2017 Environmental Law Overview  

Powerpoint (.pdf)


Lecture (audio)

Gulf Coast Power Association Meeting on Utility Scale Battery Storage, Thursday, 9/21

Houston Bar Association Environmental Section monthly lunch on Harris County Environmental Enforcement, Wednesday, 9/20

7. Sept. 20, 2017 Administrative Law and Primary Jurisdiction Doctrine; Diversity, Venue and Forum Shopping; Preemption of Local Regulation  

Powerpoint (.pdf)


Lecture (audio)

Houston Bar Association Oil & Gas Section In-House Counsel Panel on Oil & Gas Litigation, Thursday, 9/28

8. Sept. 25, 2017 Water Law and Oil & Gas Production  

A Primer on Texas Water Law by Gervais

Edwards Aquifer Authority v Day (read only up to page 28)

Powerpoint (.pdf)


Conversation with Ecuador's Hydrocarbons Minister, Friday, 10/6

History of Water Law from the Texas Handbook

Coyote Lake Ranch LLC v City of Lubbock

9. Sept. 27, 2017

Endangered Species Act


How the Conservation Plan for the Dune Sagebrush Lizard Works (NPR, June 15, 2012)

Dune Sagebrush Lizard and Sand Mining letter

Powerpoint (.pdf)


Texas Conservation Plan for the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard

Dunes Sagebrush Lizard: A Cautionary Tale of a Candidate Species Denied by Defenders of Wildlife (2013)

A New Paradigm for Species Listing? by Ben Cowan (2015)

  Sept. 29, 2017

Weatherford Drilling Rig Tour

11909 Spencer Road, Houston, Texas


Meeting agenda

Information and logistics for tour

Final sign-up roster

Directions to site

Please remember to wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed toe shoes.
10. Oct. 2, 2017 Waste Law and Regulation  

EPA Guidance on RCRA Exemption for E&P Wastes

Powerpoint (.pdf)



11. Oct. 4, 2017 Waste Law and Regulation


NRDC Petition for Rulemaking on E&P Wastes

Powerpoint (.pdf)




Oct. 9, 2017

Offshore Exploration and Development: Life on the Platform

Scott McCay
Senior Counsel, Offshore Operations, Chevron Corp.

PowerPoint (.pdf)

Lecture not recorded due to technical difficulties


13. Oct. 16, 2017

Hazardous Substances and Superfund


Alex Ritchie, CERCLA in Oil & Gas Production - read pages 1223-1245



14. Oct. 18, 2017

Hazardous Substances and Superfund - reporting obligations and indemnity agreements


Powerpoint (.pdf)

Alex Ritchie, CERCLA in Oil & Gas Production - read pages 1245-1260


Mao v. Piers Environmental Services, Cal.Ct.App 6th Dist. (2017)

Scope of the Petroleum Exclusion, EPA General Counsel (1987)

15. Oct. 23, 2017 Clean Air Act  

EPA Source Aggregation Final Rule (June 3, 2016)

Clean Air Council v EPA (D.C. Cir. July 3, 2017), pp. 1- 23 only


The Plain English Guide to the Clean Air Act

16. Oct. 25, 2017 Guest lecture - Roger Martella, Vice-President Environment Health & Safety, General Electric Co. Class will meet at noon in BLB 144. Lunch will be provided.



17. Oct. 30, 2017 Clean Water Act  

Alex Ritchie, Clean Water Act in Oil & Gas Production, pp. 1168-1191

Powerpoint (.pdf)


Nationwide Permits 2017 (in particular, NWPs 6, 8, and 20)

U.S. v. Hawkes, 136 S.Ct. 1807 (2016)

Presidential Executive Order on Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the "Waters of the United States" Rule (Feb. 28, 2017)

Proposed Rule on Definition of "Waters of the United States" - Recodification of Pre-Existing Rules (July 27, 2017)

National Assn of Mfrs v. U.S. Dep't of Defense oral argument (transcript)

Oil Spill Reporting Rule

18. Nov. 1, 2017 Safe Drinking Water Act - UIC, hydraulic fracturing  

Alex Ritchie, Clean Water Act in Oil & Gas Production, pp. 1191-1223

Powerpoint (.pdf)


Exxon, Oil Co. Pay EPA $2.5M Each For Clean Air Act Claims (Law360 Envt, 10/31/17)

U.S. v. PDC Energy complaint (6/26/17)

19. Nov. 6, 2017 Oil & Gas Development and NEPA  

Presidential Executive Order Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Permitting and Review Process for Infrastructure (Aug. 17, 2017)

Notice of Intent to Prepare Environmental Impact Statement for Dakota Access Pipeline Easement (Jan. 18, 2017)

Powerpoint (.pdf)


Keystone XL Pipeline Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

U.S. Department of Interior Order No. 3355 (Aug. 31, 2017)

20. Nov. 8, 2017 Climate Change Law and Impact on Oil & Gas Development and Use  

Clean Air Council v. Pruitt, pp. 1-23 only

Powerpoint (.pdf)



21. Nov. 10, 2017

Pipelines, Tanks, and Midstream


Brant Johnson, Chief Environmental Counsel, TransCanada

We will meet at noon, BLB3.

Readings, if any, to be provided by speaker.

Lecture (audio)


22. Nov. 13, 2017

Self-Evaluations: Audits and Disclosures

Civil and Criminal Enforcement: How, Why, and What to Do


Texas Audit Statute Guidance

EPA Self-Disclosure Policy

10 Tips to Prepare for Search Warrants

Powerpoint (.pdf)


The Criminal Process in Environmental Regulation, D. Riesel (2008)

EPA Notice of eDisclosure System


23. Nov. 15, 2017 State agency review, administration and enforcement  

Texas Railroad Commission Rules (review Rule 3.8 on Water Protection)

Who Regulates Oil and Gas Activities in Texas?

Harmon Industries v. Browner (8th Cir. 1999)

Powerpoint (.pdf)


TCEQ-Railroad Commission Memorandum of Understanding

24. Nov. 20, 2017

Final voluntary review session


Sample final exam question



  Dec. 14, 2017

Final Exam - 8-hour take-home examination. You can check out the exam at the reference desk of the UHLC library starting at 9:00 am on Friday, Dec. 1, and you must submit your exam answers by 5:00 p.m. on Dec. 14.

Please send me any email queries by Nov. 29 at noon - I will compile responses and distribute before the exam period opens on Dec. 1.

  Final emailed review questions