DENVER — Residents, environmental organizations and nuclear workers advocacy groups on July 31 moved in Colorado federal court for a writ of mandamus ordering the U.S. government to provide records that pertain to a grand jury that investigated the actions of Rockwell International Corp. at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) former weapons-grade plutonium-239 processing facility, Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant, which is now being considered as a site for hydraulic fracturing operations (Alliance of Nuclear Workers Advocacy Groups, et al. v. United States of America, No. 19-76, D. Colo.).
CINCINNATI — Attorneys for a hydraulic fracturing company and those for a class of leaseholders on June 19 debated before the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals the correct method of calculating royalties under certain fracking leases and disagreed about what was truly the central issue in the case (Zehentbauer Family Land LP, et al. v. Chesapeake Exploration LLC, et al., No. 18-4139, 6th Cir.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — A shareholder in a company that builds and maintains hydraulic fracturing wells on July 29 filed a class action in Delaware federal court contending that the company violated federal securities laws when it filed a misleading registration statement in its attempt to sell the company to another entity through a wholly owned subsidiary (Chad Wuollet v. C&J Energy Services Inc., et al., No. 19-1411, D. Del.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Environmental advocacy groups on July 30 moved in District of Columbia federal court for a status conference in their consolidated lawsuits against the Trump administration, arguing that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has damaged Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by authorizing a contractor to collect data in the area as part of land use planning efforts (The Wilderness Society, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2587, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2591, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
HOUSTON — A company that provides hydraulic fracturing services on July 1 filed a declaration in federal bankruptcy court in Texas stating that it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to the combination of “prolonged, depressed oil prices and the resulting reduction in demand” for its products (In re: Weatherford International Plc., No. 19-33694, S.D. Texas Bkcy.).
HOUSTON — A federal judge in Texas on Aug. 6 ruled that a software company’s former employee breached a confidentiality agreement related to material used in hydraulic fracturing simulation applications that may contain trade secrets. However, the judge said the scope of the breach must be determined at trial (M-I LLC v. Q’Max Solutions Inc., et al., No. 18-1099, S.D. Texas, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131275).
DENVER — A federal judge in Colorado on Aug. 5 approved a consent order that settled a trade secret violation case between a hydraulic fracturing company and its former employees as the company agreed to pay $1,625,000 in unpaid compensation and the former employees agreed not to use the information they took (Wolf Resources LLC v. Cody Derner, et al., No. 19-515, D. Colo., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130043).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A group of Native American mineral rights owners filed a brief in New Mexico federal court on Aug. 6 seeking to intervene in a lawsuit brought by environmental groups against the Trump administration for alleged violations of federal law in connection with approval of hydraulic fracturing permits. The mineral rights owners, who support fracking in their region, contend that it is a sacred Navajo right to pursue “economic opportunity” (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-703, D. N.M.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An environmental advocacy group on July 26 filed a complaint in District of Columbia federal court contending that the Trump administration has wrongfully withheld records related to the group’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, as it pertains to information about hydraulic fracturing activities on federal land (WildEarth Guardians v. U.S. Secretary of the Interior, et al., No. 19-2233, D. D.C.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Native American tribe on Aug. 2 filed a brief in the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals contending that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s argument that the tribe should have intervened earlier in its objection to the construction of a pipeline to carry hydraulically fractured gas across tribal lands is not valid because FERC’s own regulations required it to engage in off-the-record negotiations first (Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 19-1009, D.C. Cir.).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A tribal court lacks jurisdiction over declaratory and injunctive relief claims filed by oil and gas companies seeking to halt the tribal court and tribal members from prosecuting the members’ lease royalty claims against them, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Aug. 5 (Kodiak Oil & Gas [USA] Inc., et al. v. Jolene Burr, et al., Nos. 18-1824, 18-1856, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 23368).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sixteen states filed a joint amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on July 29, arguing that the Fourth Circuit’s decision that the federal government violated federal law and lacked statutory authority to grant the permit for a hydraulic fracturing pipeline is wrong and the Supreme Court must hear the case because the lower court’s ruling makes it “impossible” for any federal agency to grant an easement under the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA) (Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et al., No. 18A1181, and United States Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et al., No. 18A1182, U.S. Sup.).
TULSA, Okla. — The Trump administration on July 26 filed a brief in an Oklahoma federal court arguing that none of the claims raised by Native Americans who oppose federal permits for hydraulic fracturing on tribal land has merit and that their claim that the administration violated federal law should be denied (Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 16-cv-697, N.D. Okla.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania on July 29 found that the Pennsylvania Fiscal Code and the Supplemental General Appropriations Act of 2009 are not “facially unconstitutional” with regard to how they appropriate funds received from hydraulic fracturing leases in the state (Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation v. Pennsylvania, et al., No. 228 M.D. 2012, Pa. Cmwlth.).
TULSA, Okla. — A federal judge in Oklahoma on July 23 remanded to state court a class action against oil companies regarding earthquake damage allegedly caused by hydraulic fracturing operations, ruling that the local exception requirement to federal class action law had been met (James Adams v. Eagle Road Oil LLC, et al., No. 18-568, N.D. Okla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122424).
WILMINGTON, Del. — A company that provides sand for hydraulic fracturing operations on July 15 filed a petition in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware, saying a decline in demand and “burdensome” transportation costs have forced it to restructure its business (In re: Emerge Energy Services LP, No. 19-11563, D. Del. Bkcy.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court on July 22 ruled that state agencies had the statutory authority to set hydraulic fracturing regulations pertaining to drilling sites, spill remediation, the storage of waste water and the process of reporting waste at fracking sites (The Marcellus Shale Coalition v. Department of Environmental Protection of Pennsylvania, et al., No. 573 MD 2016, Pa. Cmwlth., 2019 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 672).
PHOENIX — Environmental advocacy groups on July 15 sued the Trump administration in Arizona federal court, contending that government agencies approved oil and gas leases for hydraulic fracturing “without ever analyzing the impacts of these leases on local communities, public lands, wildlife, and the environment” (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. Raymond Suazo, et al., No. 19-8204, D. Ariz.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration on July 11 filed a brief in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, arguing that a district court erred when it held that delay alone may be the basis for determining that an agency action is arbitrary and capricious with regard to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) cancellation of a fracking lease (Solenex LLC v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-5345, D.C. Cir.).
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Two hydraulic fracturing industry groups on June 28 moved in Wyoming federal court contending that the state of Wyoming’s case against the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) related to its Methane and Waste Prevention Rule should be stayed to assess the effect of the ongoing challenges to the rule (Wyoming, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 16-280, D. Wyo.).