OKLAHOMA CITY — An oil company on Oct. 16 filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court supporting its expert in a hydraulic fracturing well dispute it has with a fracking services company, arguing that the expert is “well credentialed” and the company opposing him does so “without a proper factual basis” (Singer Oil Company LLC v. Newfield Exploration Midcontinent Inc., et al., CIV-16-768, W.D. Okla.).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 17 declined to reconsider its reversal of summary judgment to wind farm developers on the U.S. government’s claim that the developers violated an Indian tribe’s mineral rights in its excavation work for the wind turbine foundations (United States of America v. Osage Wind LLC, et al., Nos. 15-5121 and 16-5022, 10th Cir.).
HOUSTON — An insurer cannot enforce an arbitration clause included in a contract its insured entered into with a company that conducted fracking operations on the insured’s facility because the insurer was not a party to the contract as each party to the contract assumed liability for its own losses, a Texas federal judge said Oct. 5 (Halliburton Energy Services Inc. v. Ironshore Specialty Insurance Co., No. 17-752, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166760).
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The American Petroleum Institute (API) on Oct. 10 filed a brief in Wyoming federal court arguing that the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule regarding hydraulic fracturing waste, royalties and resource conservation alters the concept of “waste” and violates federal law (State of Wyoming, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 16-285, D. Wyo.).
OKLAHOMA CITY — A hydraulic fracturing company on Oct. 9 filed a brief in an Oklahoma federal court arguing that the company that made a lithium battery pack that exploded on a fracking rig and injured a worker has a direct duty under Oklahoma law to indemnify the fracking operator because the explosion was caused by an allegedly defective design (Jacob McGehee, et al. v. Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation, et al. and Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation v. Engineered Power LP, et al., No. 15-145, W.D. Okla.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A divided Ohio Supreme Court on Oct. 6 denied a writ of mandamus to Ohio residents who sought to compel their county board of elections to place a city-charter amendment on the election ballot that would have given their local municipality the authority to enact a measure to protect local drinking water by denying companies permission to drill hydraulic fracturing wells (State ex rel. Flak v. Betras, No. 2017-1239, Ohio Sup.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A group of leaseholders in Ohio who contend that a group of hydraulic fracturing companies “systematically” violated their leases and underpaid royalties filed a brief in Ohio federal court on Sept. 29, arguing that the companies failed to meet the burden that permits them to depose the leaseholders’ counsel (Zehentbauer Family Land LP v. Chesapeake Exploration LLC, et al., No. 15-02449, N.D. Ohio).
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The states of North Dakota and Texas on Oct. 2 filed a joint brief in Wyoming federal court arguing that the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule regarding hydraulic fracturing waste, royalties and resource conservation is “unlawful and arbitrary and capricious.” Two industry trade groups also filed a brief saying the rule should be invalidated (State of Wyoming, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 16-285, D. Wyo.).
MADISON, Wis. — A federal judge in Wisconsin on Oct. 3 issued an amended judgment for $947,687.96 to a company that provides sand for hydraulic fracturing operators, concluding that a transportation company with which the sand supplier had entered a business agreement violated the contract (GQ Sand LLC v. Conley Bulk Services LLC, No. 15-152, W.D. Wis.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources on Oct. 4 approved a measure that would reduce federal regulations pertaining to the development of energy resources, including hydraulic fracturing, on Native American lands.
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on Oct. 4 vacated a postponement notice issued by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding the methane rule instituted during the Obama administration, concluding that the agency, under the Trump administration, violated federal law (Sierra Club, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 17-3885, N.D. Calif.).
DENVER — A consortium that is building a turbine wind farm on leased acreage of privately owned Indian trust lands on Oct. 2 filed a petition for rehearing in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, arguing that the procedural delay of a tribal mineral council, which intervened in the case, bars the council’s appeal (United States of America v. Osage Wind LLC, et al., Nos. 15-5121 and 16-5022, 10th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 2 denied certiorari in a case brought under the False Claims Act (FCA) related to a dispute over hydraulic fracturing leases (United States, ex rel. Leatra Harper, et al. v. Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, No. 16-1278, U.S. Sup.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Sept. 21 issued an order dismissing a lawsuit between residents and a hydraulic fracturing company, stating that the parties have resolved a groundwater contamination lawsuit “amicably” and that a settlement should be consummated within 60 days. The details of the pending agreement were not released (Nolen Scott Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, No. 09-2284, M.D. Pa.).
DENVER — A panel of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 7 denied a petition for mandamus relief in a mineral rights dispute between a hydraulic fracturing company and an oil and gas exploration company from which the fracking company purchased assets at an auction (In re: Branta LLC, et al., No. 17-1292, 10th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and a collection of environmental advocacy groups on Sept. 25 sent a letter to officials in the Trump Administration contending that “rather than defend the modest 2015 BLM [Bureau of Land Management] fracking rule in court, BLM is proposing to essentially abandon all regulation of public lands fracking and leave the issue to the states.”
TULSA, Okla. — A federal judge in Oklahoma on Sept. 14 dismissed a hydraulic fracturing lease lawsuit brought by the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma against federal agencies, ruling that the tribe failed to state a valid claim that any federal laws were violated (Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 16-cv-697, N.D. Okla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149128).
RENO, Nev. — Two environmental advocacy groups on Sept. 11 filed a lawsuit in Nevada federal court alleging that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated federal law when it auctioned leases for hydraulic fracturing in Nevada (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 17-553, D. Nev.).
DENVER — A federal judge in Colorado on Sept. 20 ruled that disputed expert opinions, with one exception, were admissible in a hydraulic fracturing land dispute because the parties failed to directly rebut each expert’s opinion. The judge also said that in her instructions to the jury, she will omit references to damage awards for diminution of value or cost of restoration based on federal precedent (A-W Land Co. LLC, et al. v. Anadarko E&P Company, et al., No. 09-2293, D. Colo.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152980).
DENVER — A split panel of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 21 vacated a district court’s ruling that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) exceeded its authority in promulgating new regulations regarding hydraulic fracturing on federal lands and remanded the case with instructions for it to be dismissed without prejudice, on grounds that changing circumstances presented by new directives issued by the Trump Administration made the appeals “prudentially unripe” (State of Wyoming, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 16-8068, 10th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 18275).