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Phone (304) 521-6120

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By Allison Janine Farrell of Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC on 04/15/2021
WV Oil and Gas News: Impacts of Executive Orders on the Appalachian Oil and Gas Industry

The oil and gas industry contributes a significant portion of the energy used in the US. Drilling in the Appalachian Basin—which includes West Virginia (WV), Pennsylvania (PA), and Ohio (OH), among other states—provides a rich source of the fuels that power our country and its economy. In turn, the oil and gas industry provides WV, PA, and OH and their residents with quality, well-compensated employment opportunities and related economic benefits. These relationships mean that developments like President Joe Biden’s recent executive orders impacting the oil and gas industry are important WV oil and gas news.

Why These Executive Orders = WV Oil and Gas News

Many in the Appalachian oil and gas industry were concerned about President Biden’s positions on fossil fuels and his comments with regards to fracking and other related matters as he took office. He was quick to take action, signing two executive orders placing limitations on the industry within his first weeks in office. While the orders create challenges, the long-term impacts are yet to be revealed, and we are staying tuned to see how the new policies take shape and continue to impact WV oil and gas news and development.

The Executive Orders and Impacts on Oil and Gas

On January 20, 2021, the President signed the Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis. The order revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and directed federal agencies to review and address procedures and policies related to the oil and gas industry in an effort to better align those policies with the administration’s public health and climate interests.

The second order impacting oil and gas drilling in WV, PA, OH, and elsewhere—the Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad—was signed by the president on January 27, 2021. This order paused new oil and gas leases on all federal lands and offshore waters pending a review of the practices that govern those leases and the related impacts on climate change. Existing leases and permits are not impacted by the order.

Oil and Gas Industry Response to the Executive Orders

The revocation of the Keystone XL pipeline permit is a hard hit for the oil and gas industry and a noteworthy development in WV oil and gas news. TC Energy, the owner of the pipeline, also owns the Columbia Gas pipeline in the Appalachian Basin and has an office in Charleston, WV. Twenty attorneys general, including those from WV, OH, and Kentucky, have filed suit against the Biden administration for revoking the Keystone permit.

Professionals in and advocates for the oil and gas industry have spoken out about the current and possible future implications of the executive orders. In addition to potential job losses and economic damages, analysts note that a long-term ban or severe limitations on oil and gas drilling and leasing of federal lands could result in increases in carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions by requiring more use of coal or oil and gas imports to replace the oil and gas supply we are currently tapping in North America.

Additionally, oil and gas leases create revenue for the federal government that is then fed back into the economy through federal projects or distributions to states. Oil and gas industry leaders recommend that the Biden administration expediently review the processes with which it has concerns and resume leasing as soon as possible to allow the industry to continue to provide for the country’s energy needs while meeting existing reduced emissions goals.

Overall, the oil and gas industry has met the challenges posed by the January 2021 executive orders with measured optimism and determination. The American Action Forum noted in an insight article that the oil and gas production that occurs on federal land is, overall, a small percentage. However, the land that is involved is significantly concentrated in a few states—New Mexico, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Colorado—and those states will bear the brunt of employment and economic losses if the pause in leasing were to become a moratorium.

In WV, specifically, Executive Director Charlie Burd of the Gas and Oil Association of WV (GOWV) says the oil and gas industry in WV is well positioned to grow and adapt while remaining aware of the potential repercussions of actions by the Biden administration. Burd notes that Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin, chairman of the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, are allies of the industry, value its contributions, and are working to protect Appalachian oil and gas interests. The state legislature also understands the importance of natural resources and oil and gas drilling in WV and has passed bills that will be beneficial to operations in the years to come.

When You Need an Oil and Gas Lawyer in WV, PA, or OH

While cautious optimism is warranted, Appalachian oil and gas operators and businesses must remain vigilant and be prepared for various outcomes related to the President’s current orders and other actions that the administration could take in the future.

Consulting with an experienced oil and gas lawyer in WV, PA, or OH is one the best ways to understand and prepare for all eventualities. Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC has served the energy industry and other business clients in WV for more than 90 years. Attorney Allison J. Farrell, of the firm’s Clarksburg, WV office, serves clients in WV, PA, and OH and is happy to discuss your concerns related to WV oil and gas news and other developments in the industry. Schedule a consultation with Allison by calling (304) 521-6120 or completing the firm’s online contact form.