WACO, Texas — A hydraulic fracturing well services company on April 15 sued Halliburton Co. and an affiliated company in Texas federal court, contending that they infringed several patents related to various pumping devices used on fracking wells.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on April 16 granted the solicitor general’s motion for leave to participate in oral arguments as amicus curiae in support of a hydraulic fracturing pipeline company that has asked the high court to reverse a lower court’s ruling that favored the state of New Jersey and held that the pipeline company does not have all the rights of the federal government with regard to the power of eminent domain.
TYLER, Texas — A children’s health foundation on April 13 filed a putative class action against a hydraulic fracturing company in Texas federal court contending that it has underpaid royalties that it owes to members of the class by engaging in a practice known as using gas off the lease.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Council of State Governments, along with other organizations pertaining to municipal government, on April 7 filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the state of New Jersey in a lawsuit brought by a hydraulic fracturing pipeline company that is asking the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court’s ruling that held that the pipeline company does not have all the rights of the federal government with regard to the power of eminent domain.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In a March 24 holding, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board exercised its discretion to deny inter partes review (IPR) of a patented method and apparatus for sealing well casings.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An environmental advocacy group on April 8 sued the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) in District of Columbia federal court, challenging its decision to offer 32 oil and gas leases for hydraulic fracturing in “a culturally rich and sacred landscape in southeastern Utah, without proper study and acknowledgement of the likely harms to historic, cultural, and natural resources.”
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal judge in Ohio on March 23 dismissed breach of contract claims against a hydraulic fracturing company and partially dismissed similar claims against a second company, ruling that the question of whether royalty lease payments were owed by the second operator depended on whether specific contracts had expired.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on March 8 stayed a case brought by environmental groups that sued former President Donald J. Trump for his decision to shrink two national monuments for hydraulic fracturing purposes and ordered the parties to file a status report by June 3 to advise the court whether they intend to continue the litigation.
PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on April 6 dismissed some defendants in a securities fraud class action against a hydraulic fracturing pipeline company, ruling that three of the company’s board members were not liable for alleged misstatements and possible coercion connected to the approval of the Mariner East 2 pipeline. However, the judge also held that the plaintiffs had sufficiently pleaded that other defendants “recklessly or knowingly misrepresented multiple facets of the pipeline construction, to the detriment of investors.”
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s attorney general and insurance commissioner on April 5 announced that they reached a $25 million settlement with Farmers Insurance Co. in a lawsuit alleging that Farmers failed to pay approximately1,000 earthquake claims submitted by insureds following an increase in seismic activity as a result of fracking operations.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A federal judge in Alaska on March 30 ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) determination that noise from an offshore hydraulic fracturing company’s tugboats towing the drilling rig to the well site would not cause “take” harassment to Cook Inlet beluga whales was “arbitrary and capricious” and she remanded the case to the NMFS for consideration of the cumulative effects of the tugboat operations.
PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on March 19 granted a motion allowing Pennsylvania Senate Democrats to intervene in a lawsuit filed by Republican state lawmakers who oppose the hydraulic fracturing moratorium instituted in the Delaware River Basin (DRB).
DENVER — A federal judge in Colorado on March 26 granted the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) motion to remand a disputed resource management plan (RMP) to the agency, ruling that based on a decision in a similar case, the BLM’s desire to conduct further environmental analysis should be granted with regard to hydraulic fracturing in the area of Colorado covered by the RMP.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on March 24 sued fracking company Chesapeake Appalachia LLC contending that it is in violation of federal and state environmental laws because it discharged fill materials into local waterways and it conducted various water obstruction activities without prior authorization at 76 fracking sites in Pennsylvania. In a proposed consent decree filed separately from the complaint, the parties seek $1.9 million in penalties.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court on March 24 ruled that the Pennsylvania attorney general could not bring an antitrust claim against a hydraulic fracturing operator under the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) related to lease agreements that were negotiated by two companies seeking to eliminate competition, which resulted in a loss of royalty payments to leaseholders. The majority said the lower court, which held that the claim was viable, relied on a misreading of a previous ruling by the Supreme Court.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in a divided March 24 ruling denied a petition for rehearing by environmental groups that seek to halt construction of a pipeline that would carry hydraulically fractured gas across two states. The majority of commissioners held that resuming construction was “environmentally preferable” when compared to maintaining temporary erosion control measures.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate introduced identical resolutions in their respective chambers on March 23 in an attempt to reverse the decision the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made in the waning days of the Trump administration that rescinded the 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule. The resolutions would officially disapprove the EPA’s 2020 decision.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Oil and gas trade associations on March 8 filed an amicus curiae brief in the Ohio Supreme Court supporting a hydraulic fracturing company and arguing that the court should decline the petition of landowners who seek review of the exception to arbitration provisions in lease agreements. The amici contend that state law is preempted by federal arbitration law.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and other groups on March 16 filed a petition with the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) asking it to not approve any new offshore drilling because additional activity will “not only exacerbate the climate crisis, it will cause numerous other harms inherent in dangerous, dirty offshore drilling.”
MONROE, La. — Louisiana and 12 other states sued President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his administration in Louisiana federal court on March 24, contending that when the president signed an executive order halting new hydraulic fracturing leases, he violated federal law.