WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation on June 20 filed a lawsuit in District of Columbia federal court against the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke seeking declaratory relief from the “unlawful decision” by the DOI that invalidated a stay issued by another federal agency with regard to hydraulic fracturing permits (Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Nation v. The United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-1462, D. D.C.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on June 19 in which it concluded that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) could improve oversight of hydraulic fracturing lease suspensions with better data and monitoring procedures.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Superior Court on June 8 denied a motion for rehearing en banc sought by a hydraulic fracturing company that argued that a Superior Court panel “misapprehended material facts” when it determined that the rule of capture does not preclude a fracking company from liability for trespass where subsurface fractures, fracturing fluid and proppant cross boundary lines and extend into the subsurface estate of an adjoining property for which the operator does not have a mineral lease (Adam Briggs, et al. v. Southwestern Energy Production Company, No. 1351MDA2017, Pa. Super., 2018 Pa. Super. LEXIS 632).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Senate is considering a bill that would designate the decision to ban hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin (DRB) as an act of eminent domain that entitles landowners in the basin to “appropriate and just compensation” for their lost opportunity to lease their land for drilling.
TULSA, Okla. — The Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma on May 17 sued two hydraulic fracturing companies in Oklahoma federal court, contending that they disposed of wastewater and introduced contaminants into the natural environment that caused “unnatural seismic activity” (Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma v. Eagle Road Oil LLC, et al., No. 18-263, N.D. Okla.).
CLEVELAND — An individual shareholder in a company that produces proppants for hydraulic fracturing operations, which is planning to merge with another proppant producer, on May 18 filed a brief in Ohio federal court seeking an order enjoining the shareholder vote until the companies disclose information that he claims was omitted from documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (Melvyn Klein v. Fairmount Santrol Holdings Inc., et al., No. 18-1186, N.D. Ohio).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on May 29 filed a brief in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, contending that it should deny a petition for review filed by landowners who contend that they have been and will be adversely affected by a proposed pipeline that would carry hydraulically fractured natural gas from Pennsylvania to New Jersey (Delaware Riverkeeper Network, et al. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 18-1128, D.C. Cir.).
CINCINNATI — A panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 31 ruled that a hydraulic fracturing company was entitled to $1.8 million from a landowner family as part of the contract the parties negotiated because the deal contained a provision that the family had to repay that amount — which acted as a signing bonus — if the company decided not to drill on the family’s land (Encana Oil & Gas v. Zaremba Family Farms, Inc., et al., Nos. 16-2065/17-1429, 6th Cir.; 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 14314).
DENVER — A panel of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 4 denied motions to dismiss a case challenging the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule issued by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with regard to hydraulic fracturing operations, and it denied motions to stay implementation of the rule filed by environmental organizations. The panel said it lacked jurisdiction over the appeals and it held that the groups failed to demonstrate that the stay factors weigh in their favor (Wyoming, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., 18-8027, 10th Cir.)
AUSTIN, Texas — A divided Texas Supreme Court on June 1 affirmed a lower court’s summary judgment ruling in favor of a hydraulic fracturing company in a lease dispute, concluding that the company did not fail to comply with the offset provision in the mineral lease it had entered with two landowner couples when it elected to drill a well rather than pay royalties (Murphy Exploration and Production Company v. Shirley Adams, et al., No. 16-0505, Texas Sup., 2018 Tex. LEXIS 454).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court on June 1 ruled 4-3 to reverse a lower court’s decision and held that the evidentiary record does not support a municipality’s board of supervisors’ decision to grant a permit to a hydraulic fracturing company (Brian Gorsline, et al. v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfield Township v. Inflection Energy LLC, No. 67 MAP 2016, Pa. Sup.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court on June 1 partially affirmed and partially reversed preliminary injunctive relief granted by a lower court in a hydraulic fracturing dispute between the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and a fracking industry advocacy group that had argued that the state’s oil and gas regulations, referred to as Chapter 78, are “unlawful, illegal, void and unenforceable for various reasons” (Marcellus Shale Coalition v. Department of Environmental Protection of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al., 115 MAP 2016, Pa. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 4denied a petition for certiorari in a hydraulic fracturing pipeline case in which Pennsylvania residents argued that a state court decision wrongly permitted Sunoco Pipeline LP to use eminent domain authority to take private property for the construction of the pipeline (Homes for America Inc. v. Sunoco Pipeline LP, No. 17-1519, U.S. Sup.).
DENVER — A group of Colorado residents on May 25 filed a brief in the Colorado Supreme Court, arguing that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) has “the unequivocal duty and authority” to protect public health in its development of oil and gas resources through hydraulic fracturing (Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, et al. v. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, et al., No. 2017SC297, Colo. Sup.).
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A federal judge in West Virginia on May 23 partially granted and partially denied a hydraulic fracturing company’s motion to dismiss an oil and gas lease dispute, concluding that a leaseholder couple had valid breach of contract claims but did not have a claim for breach of the implied duty to protect against drainage (Janet C. Packard, et al. v. Antero Resources Corporation, No. 18-04, N.D. W.Va.; 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86520).
BOISE, Idaho — Environmental groups on April 30 sued the Trump administration in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, contending that it has taken “unlawful actions to lease and develop oil and gas resources on public lands” that will adversely impact essential habitats and that violate “bedrock environmental laws” (Western Watersheds Project, et al. v. Ryan K. Zinke, et al., No. 18-187, D. Idaho).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two U.S. senators on May 22 proposed legislation that would remove land around Chaco Canyon, N.M., from federal energy development through hydraulic fracturing and other means as a way to protect Chaco Culture National Historic Park, which the senators say is sacred to all residents of New Mexico.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation (PEDF) on May 17 sued the state of Pennsylvania and its governor, contending that they have misused funds obtained through the state’s oil and gas lease fund in violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution (Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation v. Pennsylvania, et al., No. N/A, Pa. Cmwlth.).
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A patented tubular seat and tubular actuating system for use in oil and gas fracturing is rendered obvious and anticipated by various prior art, according to a May 10 petition for inter partes review filed with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Packers Plus Energy Services Inc. v. Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations LLC, No. IPR2018-01030, PTAB).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 3 declined to award attorney fees to three oil and gas companies for a ruling against two Oklahoma property owners who challenged the U.S. government’s approval of drilling leases on an Indian reservation, saying the companies were not prevailing parties because the decision was on jurisdiction, not the merits of the case (Martha Donelson, et al. v. United States of America, et al., No. 16-5174, 10th Cir.).