RICHMOND, Va. — A panel of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 13 ruled that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) violated federal law and lacked statutory authority to grant a permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), which would have crossed the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (ANST) (Cowpasture River Preservations Association, et al. v. U.S. Forest Service, et al., No. 18-1144, 4th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 35060).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A group of mineral owners on Dec. 6 filed a putative class action against several hydraulic fracturing companies in Ohio federal court, contending that they are producing oil, natural gas and other hydrocarbon products from shale formations without agreements from the owners (J&R Passmore LLC, et al. v. Rice Drilling D LLC, et al., No. 18-1587, S.D. Ohio).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Five Native American tribes on Nov. 30 filed a joint brief in a District of Columbia federal court contending that it should allow multiple parties to file amicus curiae briefs in consolidated lawsuits brought by the Hopi Tribe and environmental groups against the Trump administration for the president’s decision to reduce the size of two national monuments, which the plaintiffs say was done to open the land for hydraulic fracturing activities (Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2591, The Wilderness Society, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2587, D. D.C., Hopi Tribe, et al. v. Donald Trump, et al., No. 17-2590, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A water management company that disposes hydraulic fracturing waste by injecting it into the ground in what are known as underground injection wells moved in the Ohio Supreme Court on Dec. 3 seeking reconsideration of its decision to deny the company’s appeal of a divided lower court’s ruling that affirmed a state agency’s moratorium on injection wells (American Water Management Services v. Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management, No. 2018-1286, Ohio. Sup.).
HOUSTON — A federal judge in Texas on Nov. 27 issued a ruling that defined a series of terms in a hydraulic fracturing patent dispute to add clarity to the actual construction of the patent claim itself (Gryphon Oilfield Solutions LLC v. Stage Completions Inc., et al., No. 17-3220, S.D. Texas, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 200157).
CINCINNATI — A panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 20 granted an appeal filed by a hydraulic fracturing company that challenges a federal judge’s decision to certify a class action brought by leaseholders in Ohio who contend that the company “systematically” violated their leases and underpaid royalties (Zehentbauer Family Land LP, et al. v. Chesapeake Exploration LLC, et al., No. 18-4139, 6th Cir.).
BOISE, Idaho — The state of Wyoming and a hydraulic fracturing industry trade group on Nov. 30 filed a joint brief in Idaho federal court arguing that environmental groups that have challenged federal fracking leases support restrictions on briefing in the lawsuit “that go beyond reasonable housekeeping measures” and instead constitute substantive restrictions that will deny due process (Western Watersheds Project, et al. v. Ryan K. Zinke, et al., No. 18-187, D. Idaho).
DALLAS — A company that makes tools for use in hydraulic fracturing operations on Nov. 16 sued an oilfield services company and its executive in Texas state court, contending that they are liable for misappropriation of trade secrets under the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA) (MCR Tools LLC v. Martin G. Bruce, et al., No. DC-18-17370, 160th Dist., Dallas).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Dec. 6 announced the publication of the final environmental impact statement (EIS) for protection of the greater sage-grouse in Wyoming, which indicates the agency’s “prioritization of oil and gas leasing” outside of what is called a priority habitat management area (PHMA).
PITTSBURGH — A drilling company involved in hydraulic fracturing operations on Dec. 5 filed a brief in Pennsylvania federal court arguing that a fracking company with which it is engaged in a contract dispute should not be permitted to exclude evidence regarding employee morale that may have affected the decision to terminate the contract in question (Orion Drilling Company LLC v. EQT Production Company, No. 16-01516, W.D. Pa.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A group of landowners on Nov. 30 filed a brief in Pennsylvania federal court contending that the district court should deny a hydraulic fracturing company’s motion to dismiss a royalty payment lawsuit because the company has acted contrary to the terms of the leases it signed with the landowners and that the motion is “rooted in” the company’s “penchant for overreach” (Timothy Tyler, et al. v. Chesapeake Appalachia LLC, No. 16-00456, M.D. Pa.).
PITTSBURGH — A couple on Nov. 20 filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania federal court against a hydraulic fracturing company alleging that it is responsible for injuries the husband suffered while working at a well site (Carl E. Baker, et al. v. Range Resources – Appalachia LLC, No. 18-1566, W.D. Pa.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A group of residents on Nov. 26 filed a petition for allowance of appeal in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, arguing that a lower court erred when it applied “rational basis review” to a hydraulic fracturing zoning ordinance that affects “fundamental and constitutionally protected” property and environmental rights (Dolores Frederick, et al. v. Allegheny Township Zoning Hearing Board, et al., No. 449WAL2018, Pa. Sup.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Nov. 20 granted a petition for appeal filed by a hydraulic fracturing company that contends that a lower court erred when it failed to conclude that the rule of capture precluded recovery by residents who said the company was engaged in unlawful fracking (Adam Briggs, et al. v. Southwestern Energy Production Company, No. 443MAL2018, Pa. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Nov. 20 announced that it intends to prepare a new integrated activity plan and an environmental impact statement (IAP/EIS) for oil and gas exploration through hydraulic fracturing on federal lands within the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An order of Roman Catholic women on Oct. 31 filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court contending that a lower court incorrectly ruled that the Natural Gas Act (NGA) overrides the protections afforded by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) with regard to the construction of a pipeline to carry hydraulically fractured natural gas through property owned by the order (Adorers of the Blood of Christ, United States Province, et al. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 18-548, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Environmental groups and several Native American tribes on Nov. 15 filed briefs in District of Columbia federal court, arguing that they have standing to oppose the Trump administration’s decision to reduce the size of two national monuments, and they argue that the president lacks the authority in the first place (Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2591, D. D.C., The Wilderness Society, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2587, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A man who works as a hydraulic fracturing operator on Nov. 2 filed a lawsuit against Halliburton Co. and another company in Wyoming federal court, contending that they are liable for injuries he suffered on a well site (David Price v. Halliburton Co., et al., No. 18-180, D. Wyo.).
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on Nov. 9 ruled that federal agencies may not issue permits to conduct hydraulic fracturing operations off the California coast “unless and until” there is a complete consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (Environmental Defense Center, et al. v. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, et al., No. 16-8418, C.D. Calif.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Nov. 1 gave a man who contends that he was injured while working for a company that transports sand for hydraulic fracturing 60 days to engage in jurisdictional discovery to correct “inferential leaps” in his argument against one of the defendants. The judge also ordered the man to amend two paragraphs in his complaint that contained allegations that were “overly broad” (Dayton Cote v. U.S. Silica Company, et al., No. 18-1440, M.D. Pa., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187016).