SAN FRANCISCO — The state of Alaska on March 31 filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that it should reverse a lower court’s ruling on grounds that under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), the president can choose not to offer unleased offshore areas for oil and gas exploration leases, but he cannot permanently remove them from the entire program Congress created to govern land in the outer continental shelf (OCS) (League of Conservation Voters, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., Nos. 19-35460, 19-35461 and 19-35462, 9th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 31 reached the merits of and ultimately affirmed a Texas federal judge’s construction of various disputed claims in a fracking patent, after rejecting a challenge to the court’s appellate jurisdiction (EnerPol LLC v. Schlumberger Technology Corp., Nos. 2019-1079, -1120, Fed. Cir.).
BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — A federal judge in West Virginia on March 30 dismissed a groundwater contamination lawsuit against hydraulic fracturing companies on grounds that the plaintiffs failed to plead facts sufficient to support their claims (Teldia Haywood, et al. v. Caretta Minerals LLC, et al., No. 19-264, S.D. W.Va., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55025).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on March 27 dismissed a lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) brought by environmental groups that contended that the agency violated federal law when it repealed the methane waste prevention rule passed by the Obama administration, ruling that the BLM provided a “reasoned explanation” for its decision (Sierra Club, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 18-524, California v. United States Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 18-521, N.D. Calif.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — An energy company on March 12 filed a brief in the Delaware Supreme Court contending that a lower state court correctly held that the rights of a hydraulic fracturing field services company in an initial public offering (IPO) are subordinate to the qualified IPO rights of a private equity fund (Williams Field Services Group LLC v. Caiman Energy II, et al., No. 488, 2019, Del. Sup.).
BOISE, Idaho — Environmental advocacy groups on March 17 filed a brief in Idaho federal court seeking reconsideration and clarification of a decision by a U.S. magistrate judge who did not vacate federal hydraulic fracturing leases. The groups argue that the court should reconsider the geographic limitation on its instruction memo and should clarify that it vacated, rather than enjoined, portions of a federal instruction memorandum (IM) (Western Watersheds Project, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-187, D. Idaho).
WILMINGTON, Del. — Shareholders in a pipeline company on March 9 filed a class action complaint in Delaware state court contending that the former chairman and chief executive breached their fiduciary duties when they approved a merger with TransCanada Corp., which operates a pipeline that carries hydraulically fractured oil and gas from Canada to the United States (Police & Fire Retirement System of the City of Detroit v. Robert C. Skaggs, et al., No. 2020-0179, Del. Chanc., New Castle Co.).
PITTSBURGH — The lead plaintiff in a securities class action against a hydraulic fracturing company and some of its executives for violations of the Securities Exchange Act (SEA) and Securities Exchange Commission regulations on March 6 filed a brief in Pennsylvania federal court contending that the defendant’s motion to dismiss fails “for multiple reasons,” including the fact that it ignores that the company’s alleged false statements “include scores of false claims of purported present fact” (In re EQT Corporation Securities Litigation, No. 19-754, W.D. Pa.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Trump administration on March 26 filed a reply brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reiterating its argument that the court should reverse a lower court’s decision that the president’s executive order to revoke protection for the Arctic and Atlantic oceans from oil and gas exploration exceeded his presidential authority. The administration maintains that President Donald J. Trump’s order was “a proper exercise of delegated authority” (League of Conservation Voters, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., Nos. 19-35460, 19-35461 and 19-35462, 9th Cir.).
MILWAUKEE — A company that makes well plugs for hydraulic fracturing operators on March 6 sued its supplier in Wisconsin federal court, contending that the supplier breached the contract between the parties because the fiberglass material it sent to the well-plug manufacturer was faulty (Hydraulics International Inc. v. Amalga Composites Inc., No. 20-371, E.D. Wis.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately respond to concerns by experts about the dangers of an oil spill from the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), it must prepare a detailed environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project, a District of Columbia federal judge held March 25 in a long-running challenge to the pipeline’s construction by four Indian tribes (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 16-1534, D. D.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51540).
OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma man on March 9 sued an environmental company that performs services for hydraulic fracturing companies in Oklahoma federal court, contending that it committed fraud when it induced him to withdraw from a business agreement (Shane Martin Barnett v. Troo Clean Environmental LLC, et al., No. 20-211, W.D. Okla.).
DALLAS — A shareholder in a hydraulic fracturing pipeline company on March 25 sued the pipeline company, its officers and an energy company in Texas federal court, contending that they are liable for breach of fiduciary duties related to financial statements made pertaining to the status of a fracking pipeline and for corporate waste with regard to a corruption investigation pending against the pipeline company (Barry King, derivatively on behalf of Energy Transfer LP, v. LE GP LLC, et al., No. 20-719, N.D. Texas).
PITTSBURGH — Leaseholders on March 25 filed a purported class action against a hydraulic fracturing company in Pennsylvania federal court, contending that it had breached it contracts with them by failing to pay the appropriate amount of royalties for gas it extracted from fracking wells (Douglas Kriley, et al. v. XTO Energy Inc., No. 20-416, W.D. Pa.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two hydraulic fracturing industry groups on March 20 filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court contending that it should hear a petition to reverse a court ruling that a company did not have the authority to exercise the federal government’s power of eminent domain to secure rights of way for the construction of an interstate pipeline that would carry hydraulically fractured gas to avoid “major negative impacts” on the natural gas industry (PennEast Pipeline Company LLC v. New Jersey, et al., No. 19A836, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The state of Wyoming on March 20 moved in District of Columbia federal court to intervene in a hydraulic fracturing lease case brought by environmental groups that say the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated federal law when it approved 2,067 leases encompassing nearly two million acres of public land across five states. The state contends that it should be allowed to intervene because it depends on revenue from oil and gas development (WildEarth Guardians, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 20-56, D. D.C.).
WEST CHESTER, Pa. — In a letter sent to the chair of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) on March 18, a state senator called for a halt to all construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline that will carry hydraulically fractured oil and gas from shale formations in Pennsylvania to refineries in Marcus Hook, Pa., because of health and safety concerns posed by “the growing spread” of COVID-19.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The U.S. government on March 16 filed a brief in Ohio federal court in support of a consent decree that would settle a lawsuit for injunctive relief and civil penalties against a hydraulic fracturing company for violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at multiple oil and gas production facilities the government contends are liable for contaminating the air with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (United States v. Gulfport Energy Corporation, No. 20-340, S.D. Ohio).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A divided Minnesota Supreme Court on March 11 affirmed a lower court and held that a municipality had the authority to pass an ordinance prohibiting the extraction of hydraulic fracturing sand under specific circumstances (Minnesota Sands, LLC v. Winona, Minnesota, A18-90, Minn. Sup., 2020 Minn. LEXIS 121).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The state of Utah on March 5 filed a brief in District of Columbia federal court contending that there are no genuine issues of material fact concerning the Trump administration’s decision to reduce the size of national monuments, which would allow access to land for hydraulic fracturing. The state contends that President Trump’s “unique monument-designation authority encompasses subsequent reconsideration” (Hopi Tribe, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2590; Utah Diné Bikéyah, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2605; and Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2606, D. D.C. [consolidated]).