DENVER — An attorney for the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and another representing residents on Oct. 16 debated before the Colorado Supreme Court whether the COGCC has the discretion and authority to engage in rule-making regarding the agency’s responsibility 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.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation on Oct. 15 filed a brief in District of Columbia federal court arguing that a hydraulic fracturing company and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) should not be permitted to transfer a fracking permit dispute to North Dakota because the tribe’s preference for venue is “entitled to substantial deference” (Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Nation v. The United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-1462, D. D.C.).
DENVER — The attorney for two men who were injured by the explosion of a lithium battery related to a hydraulic fracturing operation and the attorney representing the companies that operated the well debated the issue of duty and foreseeability of the risk of harm before a panel of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 24 (Jacob McGehee, et al. v. Forest Oil Corp., et al., No. 17-6238, 10th Cir.).
DENVER — Attorneys for an environmental advocacy group and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) presented oral arguments before the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 24 in which they debated whether the DOI followed federal law when it conducted the sale of leases for hydraulic fracturing (Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 17-4134, 10th Cir.).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A mineral management company on Sept. 10 filed a brief in New Mexico federal court contending that a hydraulic fracturing company’s case against it for breach of contract in a mineral lease assignment should be dismissed because the fracking company does not have a claim for slander of title (Marathon Oil Permian LLC v. Ozark Royaly Company LLC, et al., No. 18-548, D. N.M.).
PITTSBURGH — A putative class of landowners on Sept. 11 filed a brief in Pennsylvania federal court, arguing that the court should issue an order correcting the method used for calculating fracking royalty payments that are in dispute between the landowners and a hydraulic fracturing company (Donald C. Frederick, et al. v. Range Resources – Appalachia LLC, No. 08-288, W.D. Pa.).
DALLAS — A hydraulic fracturing company on Sept. 25 sued Halliburton Co. in Texas state court seeking declaratory judgment that one of its employees is not bound by a noncompetition agreement with Halliburton because during the time he worked for that company he was involved in a different aspect of the fracking business (Cudd Pumping Services Inc., et al. v. Halliburton Company, No. DC-18-14590, Texas Dist., Dallas Co., 193rd Judicial Dist.).
DENVER — The Colorado secretary of State on Aug. 29 issued a statement of sufficiency indicating that a measure that would increase the amount of space needed as a buffer zone between new oil and gas development operations and homes, schools and playgrounds has qualified for the November ballot.
BOULDER, Colo. — The Boulder County Commissioners on Sept. 25 filed two lawsuits in Colorado state court against hydraulic fracturing companies, contending that they violated leases and easements when they developed their oil and gas extraction plans (Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County v. 8 North LLC, et al, No. 2018CV30925, Colo. Dist., Boulder Co., and Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County v. Crestone Peak Resources Operating LLC, No. N/A, Colo. Dist., Boulder Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration on Oct. 1 filed a brief in District of Columbia federal court contending that groups opposing the reduction in size of two national monuments have filed their lawsuits prematurely and the cases themselves “suffer multiple, incurable defects” (Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2591, D. D.C., The Wilderness Society, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2587, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A federal judge in West Virginia on Oct. 3 granted a hydraulic fracturing company’s motions to exclude the expert testimony of landowners who contend that the company’s fracking wells are responsible for contaminating their properties, concluding that the expert failed to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Charles Raymond Adams, et al. v. Chesapeake Energy Corporation., No. 17-4038, S.D. W.Va., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170670).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Sierra Club and 17 other environmental groups on Sept. 28 sued Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and other members of the Trump administration in California federal court, challenging the administration’s decision to rescind the 2016 Waste Prevention Rule that pertains to methane flaring by hydraulic fracturing operations, arguing that the decision “ignores” the administration’s legal obligations (Sierra Club, et al. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 18-5984, N.D. Calif.).
DENVER — A landowner filed a petition for rehearing in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 20, arguing that the panel erred when it ruled that he could not establish entitlement to equitable tolling because he had not taken any action to pursue his rights regarding a hydraulic fracturing lease dispute prior to filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) (Merrill Chance v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 17-5057, 10th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald J. Trump and other federal authorities on Sept. 7 filed a brief in District of Columbia federal court, arguing that the Hopi Tribe and other parties have access to “the full array of public notice and other tools regarding activities on public lands” and their new request for information about mining activity on lands formerly designated as national monuments places “an unnecessary burden” on government agencies (Hopi Tribe, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2590, D. D.C.).
DENVER — A putative class of landowners on Aug. 21 filed a notice of appeal in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals following the dismissal of a case in which the plaintiffs sought to recover the cost of earthquake insurance premiums from a number of injection well operators after determining that the plaintiffs failed to state claims upon which relief could be granted (Matt Meier, et al. v. Chesapeake Operating LLC, et al., No. 18-6152, 10th Cir.).
PELHAM, Mass. — A report by the Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI) published Sept. 11 found that hydraulic fracturing companies in Pennsylvania injected at least one undisclosed chemical into 55 percent of the state’s fracking wells and that exemptions in Pennsylvania law “virtually guarantee” the use of “secret chemicals” in fracking operations.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court on Sept. 10 ruled en banc and affirmed a $1,137,295.76 penalty against a hydraulic fracturing company for contamination of the state’s groundwater and other waterways that came from a leaking wastewater impoundment pond in violation of state law (EQT Production Co. v. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, No. 844 CD 2017, Pa. Comm., 2018 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 486).
SAN FRANCISCO — The attorneys general for the states of California and New Mexico on Sept. 18 filed a complaint in a California federal court, contending that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated three federal laws when it repealed the 2016 Waste Prevention Rule that pertains to methane flaring by hydraulic fracturing operations (California, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 18-5712, N.D. Calif.).
DENVER — Two hydraulic fracturing industry trade groups on Sept. 17 filed a joint brief in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that if the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule issued by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with regard to hydraulic fracturing operations is fully in effect, fracking companies “will face approximately $115 million in costs to fully comply with the rule” (Wyoming, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., 18-8027, 10th Cir.).
SAN ANTONIO — A Russian citizen on Sept. 17 sued a hydraulic fracturing company in Texas federal court for securities fraud, seeking damages allegedly caused by the company’s “fraudulent scheme” in which he says the company violated federal laws and “successfully tricked” him into investing $2.6 million (Nikolay Rastorguev v. David Sepiachvili, et al., No. 18-966, W.D. Texas).