Mike Mills

Mike Mills

Mike Mills is a partner and Chair of the firm’s Oil & Gas, Pipelines and Mining Industry Team.  His practice involves a wide spectrum of natural resources matters, including mining, land use, eminent domain, federal and state hazardous waste laws and regulations, the California Environmental Quality Act, and regulatory, permitting and title issues associated with oil and gas exploration and production. He has been listed in Northern California Super Lawyer® from 2013 to the present in Environmental Law and Energy & Natural Resources.

 

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Retailers Beware! Dollar General Just Hit with $1.125 Million Judgment for Improper Hazardous Waste Handling and Disposal

Here’s another major reminder to retailers to know their waste streams and to make sure they are being managed and handled properly.  On Monday, Kern County Superior Court Judge Sidney P. Chapin ordered Dollar General (Dolgen California) and its subsidiary corporations to pay $1.125 million as part of a settlement of a civil/environmental prosecution.  The … Continue Reading

ARB Adopts GHG Emission Standards for Oil and Gas Facilities; Operators Wary of Costs

On March 23, 2017, the California Air Resources Board (“ARB”) adopted regulations for Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for Crude Oil and Natural Gas Facilities (“Methane Regulations”).  The Methane Regulations impose emission controls on offshore and onshore oil production and processing facilities and at natural gas compressor stations, underground storage facilities, and gathering and boosting stations.… Continue Reading

Kern County Judge Grants Injunction, Blocking Blanket Enforcement of Oil Field Aquifer Exemption Regulations

A reported in a prior blog post, the Western States Petroleum Association (“WSPA”) sued the California Department of Conservation and the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (jointly, the “Department”) in Kern County Superior Court in January alleging that the Department’s oil field wastewater injection prohibitions violate WSPA’s members’ due process rights.  On March … Continue Reading

Oil & Gas Related Bills Introduced in the 2017-2018 Legislative Session

February 17, 2017 marked the deadline by which legislators had to introduce bills for the first half of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session.  The Stoel Rives’ Oil & Gas Team has been and will continue to monitor bills throughout the current two-year session and will provide periodic updates as to the status of those bills.  Below … Continue Reading

80% of Oil and Gas Injection Wells under EPA Review Will Not be Shut-In on February 15

As an update to our prior blog post, on January 17, 2017, the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) released a letter sent to notify the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) of California’s progress toward compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.  DOGGR stated that it will allow oil field wastewater injection … Continue Reading

Oil Industry Caught in “Catch-22” with New Wastewater Injection Approval Requirements; Files Suit Against California Agencies

On January 19, 2017, three oil industry trade groups filed suit against the California Department of Conservation and the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) (jointly “Department”) in Kern County Superior Court alleging that DOGGR’s oil field wastewater injection regulations violate operators’ constitutional rights.  Western States Petroleum Association, California Independent Petroleum Association, and … Continue Reading

With Time Running Out for EPA to Act, Oil & Gas Operators Grow Increasingly Anxious about Pending Aquifer Exemption Applications

December 31, 2016 marked a deadline for oilfield operators to comply with the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources’ (“DOGGR”) Aquifer Exemption and Compliance Schedule Regulations.  Operators were required to either cease injection of oilfield wastewater or obtain an aquifer exemption to continue injecting such wastewater.  This deadline was applicable to 11 aquifers that … Continue Reading

California Sues Federal Government Alleging Inadequate Environmental Review of Offshore Drilling Proposal

In one of her last major legal actions before leaving office as California’s Attorney General, Kamala Harris, along with the California Coastal Commission (jointly the “Attorney General”), filed suit against various federal agencies in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, challenging the issuance of the Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (“PEA”) … Continue Reading

Environmental Groups Sue Federal Agencies Again in Unending Legal Battle Over Offshore Oil Development

On November 11, 2016, the Environmental Defense Center (“EDC”) and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper jointly filed suit against several federal agencies including the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (jointly “Agencies”) in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.  The lawsuit alleges violations of the National … Continue Reading

New Law Takes Aim at GHG Associated with California’s Water Sector

The recent wave of climate change legislation in California also included a new and not particularly well-known law aimed at curbing greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions associated with water use. SB 1425 will create a voluntary registry to track the water sector’s energy use and GHG emissions. According to Senator Pavley, the author of SB 1425, … Continue Reading

Court’s Tentative Decision Sides in Favor of DOGGR in CBD’s Wastewater Injection Lawsuit

Update: September 26, 2016 On September 21, 2016, the Honorable George C. Hernandez, Jr. issued the final Statement of Decision, which affirmed the tentative decision denying all claims for relief.  The court denied CBD’s petition for writ of mandate. Original Post: August 22, 2016 As reported in a previous blog post, Earthjustice, on behalf of the … Continue Reading

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL UPDATE #2

This is the second update on environmental regulatory and legal developments in Los Angeles and adjacent counties, as well as the Southern San Joaquin Valley. We welcome your comments and feedback. South Coast Air Quality Management District: *Continued Report on New Management: Wayne Nastri, once an SCAQMD Governing Board Member, former USEPA Region IX Regional … Continue Reading

When Will They Ever Learn? CBD Files Another Questionable Lawsuit Against DOGGR

On August 3, 2016, the Center for Biological Diversity (“CBD”) filed suit against the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) and the State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”), challenging the regulators’ decision to approve an aquifer exemption for the Arroyo Grande oil field.  Its latest lawsuit against DOGGR, filed in the … Continue Reading

Alameda Fracking Ban: All Bark with No Bite

On July 19, 2016, Alameda County, California (“County”) became the first county in the Bay Area to approve a ban on hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”).  The County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the ban through an amendment to the Alameda County Zoning Ordinance (“Ordinance”).  Gen. Ordinance Code §§ 17.06.100-17.06.400. The Ordinance bans “high-intensity oil operations” … Continue Reading

Construction For The California High-Speed Rail Is Chugging Right Along

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (“CHSRA”) issued a press release with the status of its construction work for the high-speed rail project (the “Project”) at seven active sites in the Central Valley.  Many of the Project’s segments in Madera and Fresno are beginning to see development; the foundation has been established in several sections, rebar … Continue Reading

Proposed Oil Refinery Regulations Tackle Safety Concerns

On July 14, 2016, the California Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) announced a “landmark set of regulations to strengthen workplace and environmental safety at oil refineries across the state.”  The refinery safety rules consist of two sets of regulations:  one amending the California Occupational Safety & Health (“OSHA”) worker safety regulations as they apply to refineries, and … Continue Reading

Updated Status of Oil- and Gas-Related Bills Proposed in California’s 2015-2016 Legislative Session

June 3, 2016 was the final deadline for oil- and gas-related bills introduced in the 2015-2016 legislative session to move through their house of origin.  Below is a summary of those bills, many of which relate to natural gas storage following the Aliso Canyon natural gas well leak.  Stoel Rives is monitoring these bills and … Continue Reading

The Other Shoe Just Dropped on Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Industry

Not to be outdone by its federal counter-parts, the California Air Resources Board (“ARB”) released Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for Crude Oil and Natural Gas Facilities (“proposed rule”) for methane emissions on Tuesday, May 31, following a slew of recent federal regulations targeting reduction of methane emissions.  Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14, §§ 95665-95676 (proposed).  … Continue Reading

Southern California Environmental Update #1

This is the first update on environmental regulatory and legal developments in Los Angeles and adjacent counties, as well as the Southern San Joaquin l Valley.  Let us know what you think.  Your comments on this Update will be considered for inclusion in future updates. South Coast Air Quality Management District *New Management:  The Governing … Continue Reading

Part the Seas: Federal Report Finds Offshore Fracking has No Significant Impact

On May 27, 2016, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) jointly released a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (“PEA”) for well stimulation treatment activities at operations on the Outer Continental Shelf (“OCS”) of offshore California.  The agencies identified and studied the environmental impacts of 43 lease areas … Continue Reading

Clean Up Green Up—Supplemental Use Districts—more regulation for three LA City Neighborhoods

On June 4, 2016, the City of Los Angeles rolls out its much-discussed Clean Up Green Up (CUGU) pilot program for three communities: Boyle Heights, Wilmington and Pacoima. Ordinance 184246, approved by Mayor Garcetti on April 22, 2016, adds new rules to the City’s Planning and Zoning Code and Building Code. CUGU is controversial. Communities … Continue Reading

Status of Oil- and Gas-Related Bills Proposed in California’s 2015-2016 Legislative Session

February 19, 2016 was the deadline for lawmakers to introduce legislation to the 2015-2016 California Legislative Session, and the Legislature’s ever-growing appetite for regulating the energy industry in California shows no signs of being satiated anytime soon.  More bills than ever proposing to add new regulations on the oil and gas industry have been introduced.  … Continue Reading

No Issuance of Federal Offshore Fracking Permits Until May 2016

On January 29, 2016, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”), agencies within the federal Department of the Interior (“DOI”), agreed to put a temporary moratorium on issuance of fracking permits in the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf until environmental review is conducted.  The temporary moratorium is … Continue Reading

Stricter Underground Gas Storage Regs are in the Works

On January 15, 2016, the Department of Conservation gave notice of an interim rulemaking package to regulate underground natural gas storage facilities.  The proposed rulemaking comes in response to the continuing gas leak at an underground gas storage facility in Aliso Canyon. Governor Brown called for the new regulations in his emergency proclamation, which included … Continue Reading
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