OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge in Oklahoma on Oct. 16 denied a motion to dismiss a contract dispute between a hydraulic fracturing well services company and an oilfield company on grounds that a forum selection clause in the contract at issue does not apply (Star Well Services Inc. v. Western Oilfields Supply Company, No. 19-672, W.D. Okla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178661).
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring on Oct. 11 announced that Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC (MVP) has agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty and submit to court-ordered supervision and compliance with environmental laws to resolve allegations that the company discharged sediment and stormwater in excess of levels allowed by a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit (David K. Paylor, et al. v. Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC, No. n/a, Va. Cir., Henrico Co.).
OKLAHOMA CITY — A hydraulic fracturing company on Oct. 10 moved in Oklahoma federal court to dismiss a lawsuit brought by residents who contend that the injection of fracking waste water into the ground caused earthquakes and property damage. The company insists that the plaintiffs fail to state a claim (A.J. James, et al. v. Berexco LLC, et al., No. 19-646, W.D. Okla.).
RICHMOND, Va. — The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 11 granted a motion for a stay sought by environmental groups that oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), ruling that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) must postpone issuing its biological opinion and incidental take statement pending a decision on the groups’ petition for review. The MVP would carry hydraulically fractured oil and gas through West Virginia and Virginia (Wild Virginia, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 19-1866, 4th Cir.).
DENVER — Environmental advocacy groups on Oct. 8 sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and federal officials in Colorado federal court contending that they violated federal law when they approved a resource management plan (RMP) that opens more than 1 million acres for hydraulic fracturing in Colorado (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. United States Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 19-2869, D. Colo.).
DENVER — Hydraulic fracturing companies on Sept. 20 filed a brief in Colorado federal court intervening in a lawsuit filed by environmental advocacy groups against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in which the groups contend that the agency violated federal law when it approved fracking permits in the Bull Mountain area of Colorado. The intervenors maintain that the BLM complied with federal law (Citizens for a Healthy Community, et al. v. United States Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 17-2519, D. Colo.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 7 refused to hear a case brought by a woman who contended that a circuit court exceeded limits on federal power when it granted a company immediate possession of property in a condemnation proceeding under federal law that pertains to the construction of pipelines to carry hydraulically fractured gas from West Virginia to Virginia (Karolyn Givens, et al. v. Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC, No. 19-54, U.S. Sup.).
DENVER — A panel of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 2 denied a hydraulic fracturing company’s motion to reconsider the Circuit Court’s earlier refusal to hear argument in a fracking earthquake damage class action a district court had remanded to state court. The panel issued a one-paragraph order in which it ruled that “the motion to reconsider is construed as a petition for panel rehearing, and, so construed, the petition is denied” (Trinity Operation (USG) LLC v James Adams, No. 19-604, 10th Cir.).
WHEELING, W.Va. — A hydraulic fracturing company on Sept. 25 moved in West Virginia federal court to dismiss a mineral rights lawsuit, contending that the court does not have jurisdiction because one of the plaintiffs is a resident of Colorado and the company is also based in that state (Rufus Fordyce Pike, et al. v. Antero Resources Corporation, No. 19-276, N.D. W.Va.).
GREENVILLE, S.C. — A hydraulic fracturing pump manufacturer on Sept. 19 filed an answer in South Carolina federal court in which it denies the claims against it and asserts affirmative defenses that the plaintiff breached the contract between the parties by delivering fracking well plungers that malfunctioned (Flame Spray North America Inc. v. Kerr Pumps Inc., No. 18-02845, D. S.C.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal judge in Ohio on Oct. 3 issued an order accepting a report and recommendation by a magistrate judge who said a hydraulic fracturing lease dispute over permission to drill should not be remanded to state court, concluding that the bar for remand is “high” and that the plaintiffs did not establish that they had met the standard (Tera II LLC v. Rice Drilling D LLC, No. 19-2221, S.D. Ohio).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 4 agreed to hear a pipeline company’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling that blocked the construction of a pipeline to carry hydraulically fractured oil and gas through portions of national forest land on grounds that the ruling “erroneously converts the Appalachian Trail into a 2,200-mile barrier to critical infrastructure” (Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et al., No. 18-1587, U.S. Sup., and U.S. Forest Service, et al. v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et al., No. 18-1584, U.S. Sup. [consolidated]).
BOISE, Idaho — Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt on Sept. 30 filed an answer in Idaho federal court denying allegations against him and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) brought by environmental groups in an amended complaint that challenges federal hydraulic fracturing leases. Bernhardt says the groups’ arguments are “vague” and maintains that the groups lack standing (Western Watersheds Project, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-187, D. Idaho).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 1 postponed oral arguments in a hydraulic fracturing pipeline case pending the final disposition of a related case in another circuit court (Delaware Riverkeeper Network, et al. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 18-1128, D.C. Cir.).
MIDLAND, Texas — Two hydraulic fracturing services companies on Sept. 30 sued a competitor that provides similar fracking services, contending that it is liable for patent infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets (Coil Chem LLC, et al. v. Durachem Production Company, et al., No. 19-225, W.D. Texas).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A judge in District of Columbia federal court on Sept. 30 denied a motion by the Trump administration that sought to dismiss two consolidated cases brought by environmental advocacy groups that challenge President Donald Trump’s decision to reduce the size of two national monuments. The groups, which maintain that the president lacks the authority in the first place, argue that the decision was partly motivated by a desire to access land for hydraulic fracturing (The Wilderness Society, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2587, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2591, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
HOUSTON — A man who contends that he was injured on a hydraulic fracturing well site moved in federal bankruptcy court for relief from the bankruptcy stay on Sept. 30 to pursue his claim against the company (In re: Sanchez Energy Corporation, No. 19-34508, Ch. 11, S.D. Texas Bkcy.).
PITTSBURGH — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11 issued a verbal order administratively closing a hydraulic fracturing lease dispute after she was advised that a settlement in an underlying, related action involving the same parties had been reached. Before that order, the judge had previously partially granted and partially denied the fracking company’s motion to dismiss the case (Thomas W. Pflasterer, et al. v. Range Resources-Appalachia LLC, No. 18-1437, W.D. Pa.).
BILLINGS, Mont. — A federal judge in Montana on Sept. 13 denied a motion to dismiss a wrongful death chemical exposure case brought by a woman who contends that her son was killed when a hydraulic fracturing company negligently allowed him to work around toxic substances on a fracking well site (Mary L. Devera v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, No. 18-59, D. Mont., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157000).
SALT LAKE CITY — Two environmental groups filed a joint brief in Utah federal court on Sept. 19 contending that the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) motion to dismiss their consolidated complaints challenging federal hydraulic fracturing leases lacks merit (Friends of Cedar Mesa v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 19-13, and Southern Utah Wilderness Association v. David Bernhardt, No. 19-266, D. Utah).