WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 11 refused to hear a case brought by a hydraulic fracturing sand company that contended that an ordinance passed by a municipality in Minnesota that prohibited fracking sand mining violated the Minnesota Constitution.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Jan. 5 granted allocatur in a hydraulic fracturing case it refused to hear in 2020 and limited its review to evidentiary issues regarding the rights of property owners to develop mineral interests. The decision was included as a note on the docket.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) on Dec. 28 announced that it has entered into a contract worth $2.5 million under which the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health will conduct research on the potential health effects of hydraulic fracturing in the state.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A hydraulic fracturing company on Dec. 29 filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court contending that Illinois’ “unauthorized moratorium on permits” as well as “onerous regulations” amount to “a categorical regulatory taking” of fracking leases under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Jan. 6 denied the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) motion for partial summary judgment in a dispute over whether hydraulic fracturing well pads constitute a “project” under an agreement pertaining to activity in the Delaware River Basin, ruling that a determination on the issue is “not appropriate on summary judgment.”
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Center for Biological Diversity on Jan. 6 announced that it and other environmental advocacy groups had reached a settlement with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under which the agency has agreed to complete a supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) for two resource management plans (RMPs) in western Colorado before hydraulic fracturing can proceed on 53 leases it auctioned in 2016 and 2017.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A federal judge in Alaska on Jan. 5 denied a motion for preliminary injunction sought by environmental groups who contend that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated federal law when it approved hydraulic fracturing leases in the Coastal Plain of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) on grounds that they did not establish that they would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction were denied.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt on Jan. 4 filed a brief arguing that the District of Columbia federal court should reject a request for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent the sale of oil and gas leases located in the Labyrinth Canyon Wilderness of Utah, contending that the plaintiffs have failed to establish “imminent, irreparable harm.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on Jan. 4 recommended denying a motion by the Department of the Interior (DOI) to dismiss a suit by the Cherokee Nation seeking an accounting of funds held in trust for the tribe by the federal government, saying the tribe’s claims are more than adequately stated.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Jan. 6 issued a decision document pertaining to Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) for the construction of pipelines that carry hydraulically fractured oil and gas, finding that “the discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States” authorized by NWP 12 “will not have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment.”
DENVER — An environmental group on Jan. 4 filed a brief in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated federal law in multiple ways when it approved hydraulic fracturing leases in New Mexico without taking a “hard look” at pollution to the ozone and contamination of aquifers.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two Native American tribes and two environmental groups filed suit Dec. 24 in District of Columbia federal court to challenge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ issuance of a permit authorizing replacement of a 338-mile section of an oil pipeline in Minnesota and North Dakota, saying the project violates federal laws and treaties and harms the tribes.
PHILADELPHIA — A hydraulic fracturing pipeline company on Dec. 30 filed a brief in Pennsylvania federal court contending that a punitive damages lawsuit filed by an order of Roman Catholic women who oppose construction of the pipeline should be dismissed because the order “conspicuously ignores their failure to participate” in the pipeline approval process that “lasted years.”
SAN ANTONIO — An equipment company on Dec. 30 moved in Texas federal court to dismiss a breach of contract lawsuit brought by a hydraulic fracturing sand company, contending that the fracking sand company fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted based on the court’s enforcement of the express terms of the contract between the parties.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law on Dec. 14 filed an amicus curiae brief in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to rescind the 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule “rests on the erroneous conclusion that the 2016 Rule unlawfully defined the oil and gas source category to include transmission and storage equipment.”
DENVER — Environmental groups on Dec. 21 filed a notice of appeal in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals seeking reversal of a district court decision that vacated the 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule that requires oil and gas producers to use currently available technologies and processes to cut flaring in half at hydraulic fracturing wells on public and tribal lands. The notice did not include any arguments supporting the appeal (Wyoming, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 16-285, D. Wyo.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Dec. 21 filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that it should uphold a lower court’s summary judgment ruling that environmental groups lacked standing to pursue claims challenging the BLM’s decision to rescind the 2016 methane waste prevention rule that pertains to the venting and flaring of methane in hydraulic fracturing operations (California v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., Nos. 20-16157 and 20-16158, 9th Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 23 denied a petition for rehearing en banc in a hydraulic fracturing lawsuit and let stand the panel’s earlier decision, which held that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) met the federal requirements for a 2017 lease sale in the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR) in Alaska (Northern Alaska Environmental Center, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 19-35008, 9th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A hydraulic fracturing sand company on Dec. 15 filed a reply brief in the U.S. Supreme Court contending that a municipality in Minnesota that opposes the company’s takings clause case “barely tries to deny that the questions presented are cert-worthy,” and it says the commerce clause warrants certiorari (Minnesota Sands LLC v. County of Winona, Minnesota, No. 20-441, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Environmental groups on Dec. 16 filed a response brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that the decision of federal agencies to grant hydraulic fracturing leases was “substantively and procedurally unlawful” and, therefore, the lower court ruling that vacated the leases should stand (Montana Wildlife Federation v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 20-35609, 9th Cir.).