Pipelines & NEPA: The Environmental Review Process, How Companies Circumvent it, & How to Fight Back

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Delaware Riverkeeper Network

Pipeline Webinar Series: Defeating Shale Gas Infrastructure, Tools for Communities from the Latest Legal Challenges
Across the nation, legal action and advocacy fueled by greater legal awareness are becoming some of the most powerful tactics in fighting the proliferation of fracked gas pipelines. Join us to learn about the latest strategies, tools, and emerging successes in challenging fracked gas infrastructure projects through a series of exciting new legal case studies. In this webinar series, you will hear from the top legal minds, experts, and advocates that are shaping the landscape for challenging pipelines across the country. Use the lessons learned and precedent set in the latest legal battles to help inform your battle at home. Discover the latest on what the shifting legal and regulatory landscape means for your pipeline battle. And get equipped with the strongest tools to defeat individual pipeline projects, through both advocacy and litigation, while strengthening the larger unified battle against FERC regulated pipelines throughout the country.

Aaron Stemplewicz, Attorney, Delaware Riverkeeper Network

Aaron Stemplewicz received his J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law and has been a staff attorney at the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) since 2011, focusing on gas drilling and infrastructure development litigation. Aaron argued a case before the District of Columbia Circuit Court of appeals were he helped DRN secure a judgment against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for violations of the National Environmental Policy Act relating to a pipeline project. He has also written articles relating to natural gas drilling which have been published by the Duquesne Business Law Journal and Buffalo Environmental Law Journal, and has presented as a guest speaker at numerous events detailing natural gas pipeline legal, technical, and environmental issues, including: the Schuylkill Watershed Conference, National Wildlife Forest Symposium, Pennsylvania Environmental Inn of Court, Transco Brandywine Pipeline Forum, and Charleston TAG Pipeline Conference.

Stephen Schima, NEPA Campaign Director, Save Our Environment

NEPA Campaign Director - Stephen Schima is currently the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Campaign Director for the Partnership Project – a coalition of over twenty national environmental advocacy groups. Mr. Schima has a Juris Doctor degree from Lewis and Clark Law School, where he focused his studies on international and environmental law. Mr. Schima now lives in Baltimore, Maryland and is a member of the Oregon Bar.

Carolyn Elefant, Law Offices of Carolyn Elefant

Carolyn Elefant has been practicing energy regulatory law since 1988, including all aspects of electric utility regulation before FERC and state PUCs. She is an internationally recognized legal/policy expert on offshore renewables and founder of Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition. She is the founder, director, and counsel of PowerUp Legal services, an online marketplace delivering on-demand energy counsel to in-house counsel and law firms requiring project-based or temporary support on energy matters. Currently, she is the principal attorney in Law Offices of Carolyn Elefant PLLC, a small law firm in Washington D.C. and Bethesda, Maryland serving energy companies, landowners and municipalities in electric and gas cases before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, state regulatory commissions, state and federal trial and appellate courts. The firm thrives on energy cases of first impression and last resort- meaning either cases involving novel issues that have never before been litigated, or matters where other lawyers have been unsuccessful.

Margaret Shugart, Big Bend Conservation Alliance

Margaret Shugart is a 3L and Master of Environmental Law and Policy candidate at Vermont Law School. She was drawn to environmental law during a fight against the Trans-Pecos Pipeline in the Big Bend Region. As an executive board member of the Big Bend Conservation Alliance, a non-profit deeply involved in the fight, she realized the power of wielding the law when advocating for community and environmental issues. This realization led her to the top environmental law school in the nation where she could work with and learn from some of the best, most passionate advocates in the world. She now lives in Vermont with her 7-month-old-daughter and fluffy, mischievous cat.

Coyne Gibson, Big Bend Conservation Alliance

Coyne Gibson is a member, and volunteer with the Big Bend Conservation Alliance (BBCA). Formerly an electrical and control systems engineer in the Oil & Gas industry, in his volunteer capacity with the BBCA, Coyne provides technical, regulatory, and related research services to the organization. During the BBCA’s opposition to the Trans-Pecos Pipeline project, Coyne was the first individual intervenor, and worked with the BBCA’s attorney team, throughout the process, including contributions to the D.C. Circuit Court appellate case.


Learn about the environmental analysis mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and some of the ways that FERC and pipeline companies attempt to side step this requirement and minimize the appearance of a pipeline’s impacts—by illegally breaking projects into smaller parts (known as segmentation), or by otherwise limiting the scope of the review. Learn what you can do to identify and fight back against this in your community.