General Counsel

September 13, 2013

Pennsylvania drillers may soon face tightened environmental regulations

Source:, September 5, 2013
By: Scott J. Bent, Baker & Hostetler LLP

Oil and gas drillers in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation may soon find themselves subject to more stringent environmental protection standards under regulations proposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“the Department”). The Department announced on August 27, 2013 that the proposed regulations were approved by the state’s Environmental Quality Board. The proposal now moves to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and the Office of General Counsel, followed by a public comment period.

The proposed regulations address four general issues: 1) protection of public lands and resources; 2) orphan and abandoned well identification; 3) pollution containment practices; and 4) protection of water resources.

Protection of Public Resources

Under the proposed regulations, applicants for well permits must notify the appropriate public resource agency (such as the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources or the Pennsylvania Game Commission) if a well site is within a certain distance of public lands or resources. For example, notice is required if a site is within 200 feet of a national natural landmark or within 1,000 feet of a water well, surface water intake, reservoir, or other water source used by a water purveyor.

The resource agency has an opportunity to provide comments and recommendations to the Department and the well operator. The Department makes the final determination on the permit application, and it may add conditions to the well permit to mitigate potential impact to public resources.…

November 12, 2012

REE miner Molycorp sues Project Phoenix engineers for $45m-plus in damages

Source:, November 6, 2012
By: Dorothy Kosich

Facing liquidity concerns and a weaker rare earths market, Molycorp is suing the engineering firm it considers responsible for delays and cost overruns at its flagship Mountain Pass facility expansion.

U.S. rare earths producer Molycorp has sued the engineering firm formerly in charge of designing the chemical processes at its troubled Project Phoenix for damages in excess of $45 million.

In a lawsuit filed on Oct. 31, 2012, in the U.S. District Court for Colorado, Molycorp claims M&K Chemical Engineering Consultants of Granite City, Illinois, “failed to perform its work in accordance with good engineering practices…and consistently failed to provide its work product in accordance with the contractual work schedule.”

The miner also claimed M&K alleged failure to adhere to technical specifications impeded Molycorp’s effort to standardize equipment and installation at its Mountain Pass Operation near Las Vegas.

‘Many of M&K’s designs were unsafe creating hazardous conditions that, if not rectified, could have resulted in serious injury or death to personnel working in and around the facilities,” the lawsuit claimed, adding the designs for various solids handling systems failed to consider operations and maintenance issues associated with acid and caustic solids.…