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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Injection Well Operators Beware: Ninth Circuit Finds Underground Injection Wells Require NPDES Permit under the Federal Clean Water Act

On February 1, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the district court’s decision, finding that the County of Maui violated the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) when it discharged treated effluent into underground injection wells, which then allowed the effluent to seep into the Pacific Ocean.  The Ninth Circuit panel held … Continue Reading

Trump EPA Will Not Stay Landfill Methane Rules

In early January 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) decided to halt previous proposals to stay methane rules for new and existing landfills.  The Obama Administration’s EPA issued the final New Source Performance Standards (“NSPS”) and Emissions Guidelines (“EG”) for municipal solid waste landfills on August 29, 2016 (jointly “Methane Rules”).  These updates to … Continue Reading

San Joaquin Valley Oil and Gas Operators Take Note: New Emission Rules and Compliance Deadlines

In March 2017, the California Air Resources Board (“ARB”) adopted regulations for Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for Crude Oil and Natural Gas Facilities (“Methane Regulations”), which impose emission controls for oil and gas facilities across the state.  Following the state rulemaking process, ARB and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (“Air District”) – … Continue Reading

Ready or Not? Now’s the Time to Get Your Oil Spill Management Team OSPR Certification

The California Office of Spill Prevention and Response (“OSPR”), within the Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been tasked with new responsibilities related to oil spill response.  Assembly Bill 1197 (“AB 1197”), which was signed into law in October 2017 and goes into effect on January 1, 2018, authorizes spill management teams (“SMTs”) to apply … Continue Reading

How Low Can You Go? Proposed Agricultural Waste Discharge Requirements Impose Even More Stringent Demands on Central Valley Farmers

On October 10, 2017, the California State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”) issued the second version of an order to modify agricultural waste discharge requirements (“Proposed Order”), under the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (“ILRP”).  Through the ILRP, the Water Board regulates discharges from irrigated agricultural lands across the state, especially within California’s Central Valley.  … Continue Reading

Update on a Prior Post: SB 774 is Tabled for the Legislative Session; No Toxic Substances Board

On September 14, 2017, Senate Bill 774 (“SB 774”) was ordered inactive on request of Assembly Member Calderon.  The bill, which proposed creation of the new California Toxic Substances Board (“CTS Board”), will not become law this session, and we will continue to monitor this legislation if it becomes active again during the next legislative session. … Continue Reading

DOGGR Releases Proposed Pipeline Testing Regulations

On September 22, 2017, the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for its Pipeline Testing Regulations.  The Notice announces that DOGGR proposes to adopt regulations for pipeline testing and safety, as required under Assembly Bill 1420. Assembly Bill 1420 (“AB 1420”) went into effect on January … Continue Reading

Update on a Prior Post: Under Pressure SB 774 Has Been Amended – But the Appointed Toxic Substances Board Concept Remains in the Bill

Senate Bill 774 (“SB 774”) was amended in July 2017 to delete a section of the bill that would have allowed the new California Toxic Substances Board (“CTS Board”) to adopt or amend relevant regulations.  Under the revised version of SB 774, the CTS Board is not permitted to adopt regulations and is no longer … Continue Reading

How Due Process Will Wither and Die under California’s New Air Contaminant Law: AB 1132 Authorizes Air Districts to Shut Down Facilities Without a Hearing

Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1132 (“AB 1132”) into law on August 7, 2017.  The bill, authored by Democratic Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, adds Section 42451.5 to the Health and Safety Code which authorizes air districts to issue interim orders for abatement pending an abatement hearing for non-vehicular sources of air pollution.  The South Coast … Continue Reading

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

Stoel Rives’ Oil & Gas Team has been monitoring bills introduced by California legislators since the beginning of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session.  Below are the latest updates on a list of bills, summarized pursuant to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest, that our team has been following and will continue to monitor as the 2017-2018 Legislative Session … Continue Reading

Bill Proposes an Appointed Board to Fix the Department of Toxics Substances Control; Will It Just Make Matters Worse?

Senate Bill 774 (“SB 774”) proposes to eliminate the Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”) and form a five-member board, the California Toxic Substances Board (“CTS Board”).  On June 1, the Senate approved the bill, and it is now awaiting is first policy committee hearing in the Assembly.  According to the bill’s text, “This bill … Continue Reading

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

Stoel Rives’ Oil & Gas Team has been monitoring bills introduced by California legislators since the beginning of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session.  June 2, 2017 was the deadline by which the Legislature was required to pass bills out of the house of origin. Failing to meet that deadline does not automatically prevent a bill from … Continue Reading

Senate Bill Proposes Major Market-Based Remodel of Cap-and-Trade Program

California’s cap-and-trade program withstood a battle in court, and now the Legislature is proposing changes to the controversial program.  Senator Bob Wieckowski (Democrat – District 10), Chair of the Environmental Quality Committee, has authored Senate Bill 775 (“SB 775”) which would extend the cap-and-trade program to 2030 with modifications.  The existing cap-and-trade program, established under … Continue Reading

Another Retailer Shells Out for Hazardous Waste Violations: Big Lots Ordered to Pay $3.5 Million

Following closely on the heels of Dollar General’s hazardous waste settlement (about which we reported in our April, 19, 2017 blog post), another discount retailer has been held to account in a big way for its failure to properly manage its waste streams.  On April 21, 2017, a San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge ordered … Continue Reading

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL UPDATE #3 – APRIL 24, 2017

This is the third 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 updates. South Coast Air Quality Management District *Governing Board Shift:  New Governing Board Member Sheila Kuehl replaced Mike Antonovich, returning the Board to a Democratic … Continue Reading

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
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