HARRISBURG, Pa. — An appeals panel in Pennsylvania on Nov. 14 affirmed a trial court ruling that approved a local municipality’s zoning decision to allow hydraulic fracturing, finding that it properly balanced the rights of property owners seeking to develop their mineral resources with the need to ensure the health, safety and welfare of neighboring community members and property owners (Protect PT v. Penn Township Zoning Hearing Board, et al., No. 1632 C.D. 2018, Pa. Cmwlth.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Trump administration on Nov. 7 filed its opening brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that a lawsuit against President Donald J. Trump over his executive order that opened areas of the Outer Continental Shelf off the coast of Alaska for oil and gas drilling should be dismissed because the plaintiffs have not established that the executive order caused an injury (League of Conservation Voters, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., Nos. 19-35460, 19-35461 and 19-35462, 9th Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA — The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 25 set a tentative date for oral arguments in an appeal brought by three Pennsylvania state senators who argue that they have the right to intervene in a lawsuit over hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin (DRB). The Third Circuit set the tentative date as Dec. 12 (Wayne Land and Mineral Group LLC v. Delaware River Basin Commission, No. 19-2354, 3rd Cir.).
BOULDER, Colo. — The Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) on Oct. 2 filed a reply brief in Colorado state court contending that a citizen group has failed to meet the burden to reopen a lawsuit in which the Colorado Supreme Court has previously held that local bans on hydraulic fracturing are preempted by state law (Colorado Oil & Gas Association, et al. v. Longmont, Colo., et al., No. 2013CV63, Colo. Dist., Boulder Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration on Oct. 25 filed a status report in District of Columbia federal court asking it to clarify that the administration is not required to provide environmental groups with notice of new contracts for roads and other projects in national monuments that President Donald Trump reduced in size. The groups contend that the decision to reduce the size of the monuments was partly motivated by a desire to access land for hydraulic fracturing (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]).
EL PASO, Texas — A hydraulic fracturing company that holds oil and gas leases in the Permian Basin on Oct. 30 filed a reply brief in Texas appellate court contending that it has a legitimate claim that the leases have not been terminated, contrary to an energy company’s argument (MRC Permian Company v. Point Energy Partners Permian LLC, et al., No. 08-19-00124, Texas. App., 8th Dist., El Paso).
WHEELING, W.Va. — A hydraulic fracturing company on Oct. 30 filed an answer in West Virginia federal court contending that breach of contract claims brought against it by leaseholders who claim that the company has failed to pay fracking royalties should be dismissed based on the terms of the contracts at issue (William D. Glover, et al. v. EQT Corporation, et al., No. 19-223, N.D. W.Va.).
PHILADELPHIA — The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 5 refused to rehear en banc a pipeline company’s case against the state of New Jersey regarding the state’s power to prevent construction of a natural gas pipeline for which federal approval and eminent domain have already been granted (In re PennEast Pipeline Company LLC, No. 19-1191, 3rd Cir. [consolidated]).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A hydraulic fracturing pipeline company on Oct. 23 sued county officials in an Ohio federal court contending that they violated the company’s rights when they ejected the company’s personnel from land where the pipeline was being built, for which the company had a federal permit (Rover Pipeline LLC v. Amy M. Zwick, et al., No. 19-4698, S.D. Ohio).
FRESNO, Calif. — A group of residents and environmental advocacy organizations on Oct. 4 filed a brief in California appellate court contending that the court should reverse a trial court’s ruling related to more than 200 permits to operate hydraulic fracturing wells because the appropriate environmental review required by the state was never performed (Association of Irritated Residents v. California Department of Conservation, No. F078460, Calif. App., 5th Dist.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Environmental advocacy groups on Oct. 30 sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in California federal court, contending that its decision to open California’s Bay Area and Central Coast to hydraulic fracturing violates federal law (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 19-7155, N.D. Calif.).
PHILADELPHIA — Hydraulic fracturing trade groups on Oct. 29 filed an amicus curiae brief in the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, contending that it should rehear en banc a pipeline company’s case against the state of New Jersey because the appellate panel’s ruling that the state could prevent construction of the pipeline is an opinion that is “positioned to work a seismic shift in federal law” pertaining to “critical interstate natural gas pipeline infrastructure” (In re PennEast Pipeline Company LLC, No. 19-1191, 3rd Cir. [consolidated]).
EL PASO, Texas — A hydraulic fracturing company on Sept. 30 filed a brief in Texas appellate court contending that the tortious interference claims of a fracking company that holds oil and gas leases in the Permian Basin fail as a matter of law because the leases terminated (MRC Permian Company v. Point Energy Partners Permian LLC, et al., No. 08-19-00124, Texas. App., 8th Dist., El Paso).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M — Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and other federal officials on Oct. 4 filed an answer in New Mexico federal court contending that a Native American tribal group and environmental advocacy groups have not established the requirements for a preliminary injunction to prevent fracking in the Mancos Shale Play because federal law does not provide for a private right of action against federal defendants (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-703, D. N.M.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Environmental groups on Oct. 2 filed a brief in California federal court arguing that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) “unlawfully justifies” the rescission of the 2016 rule that regulated venting and flaring of methane gas at hydraulic fracturing facilities by “arbitrarily applying” a definition of “waste” that violates the intent of Congress (California, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 18-5712, N.D. Calif.).
SAN ANTONIO — A water filtering company that provides services to hydraulic fracturing companies on Oct. 4 filed a lawsuit in Texas federal court against two companies, seeking injunctive and monetary relief for trade secret misappropriation and trademark infringement (WaterFleet LLC v. TanMar Rentals LLC, et al., No. 19-1190, W.D. Texas).
PHILADELPHIA — A hydraulic fracturing pipeline company on Oct. 22 filed a petition in the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that it should rehear en banc the pipeline’s case against the state of New Jersey on grounds that federal law authorizes natural gas companies to condemn the necessary rights-of-way for federally approved interstate natural gas pipelines (In re PennEast Pipeline Company LLC, No. 19-1191, 3rd Cir. [consolidated]).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) on Oct. 22 sued two federal agencies in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia contending that their failure to provide records of their decisions to approve offshore hydraulic fracturing operations in the Gulf of Mexico violates the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (Center for Biological Diversity v. Bureau of Safety & Environmental Enforcement, et al., No. 19-3154, D. D.C.).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An environmental group on Oct. 18 amended its complaint against Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and other federal officials in New Mexico federal court, contending that the court should vacate federal hydraulic fracturing lease authorizations because they violate federal law. The group also maintains that the defendants failed to take a “hard look” and fully assess the significance of the climate impact associated with the leases (WildEarth Guardians v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-505, D. N.M.).
OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge in Oklahoma on Oct. 16 denied a motion to dismiss a contract dispute between a hydraulic fracturing well services company and an oilfield company on grounds that a forum selection clause in the contract at issue does not apply (Star Well Services Inc. v. Western Oilfields Supply Company, No. 19-672, W.D. Okla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178661).