WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two federal legislators on June 17 announced that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) will open an investigation into whether the Trump administration violated “longstanding prohibitions” against using appropriated funds for hydraulic fracturing leasing activities within the historic boundariesthe Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a hydraulic fracturing industry trade group on June 12 filed separate amicus curiae briefs in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, each contending that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) cancellation of a fracking lease issued to Solenex LLC was “arbitrary and capricious” (Solenex LLC v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-5345, D.C. Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The attorneys general for the states of California and New Mexico on June 7 moved in California federal court for summary judgment declaring that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) decision to rescind the 2016 Waste Prevention Rule that pertains to methane flaring by hydraulic fracturing operationswas “unlawful.” The plaintiffs argue that the court should vacate the decision because methane flaring can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that cause and worsen respiratory problems (California, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 18-5712, N.D. Calif.).
NEW ORLEANS — A panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 3 denied a petition for rehearing filed by a company that conducted fracking operations on an insured's facility asking it to reconsider its ruling that reversed a federal court's finding that a site pollution legal liability insurer waived its subrogation rights under an onshore master services agreement (MSA) (Halliburton Energy Services Inc. v. Ironshore Specialty Insurance Co., No. 17-20678 consolidated with No. 18-20239, 5th Cir.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — Hydraulic fracturing company White Star Petroleum Holdings LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on May 28, posting negative working capital of $70 million due to what is says are “volatile market conditions” that have hurt independent operators in the Mississippian Lime formation in Oklahoma (In re: White Star Petroleum Holdings LLC, No. 19-11179, D. Del. Bkcy.).
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Chevron Corp. on April 19 filed a brief in California appellate court contending that a local ordinance passed by Monterey County, Calif., “frustrates” the purpose of state law regarding hydraulic fracturing by banning activities that the state promotes and permits (Monterey, et al. v. Chevron U.S.A. Inc., et al., No. H045791, Calif. App., 6th Dist.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A hydraulic fracturing company on June 5 filed a brief in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) cancellation of a fracking lease was “built upon false premises and dangerously wide-sweeping assertions of ‘inherent’ agency authority” (Solenex LLC v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-5345, D.C. Cir.).
DENVER — Environmental groups on June 5 sued the Trump administration in Colorado federal court seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and a review of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) decision to issue 59 oil and gas leases for hydraulic fracturing covering 61,910.92 acres in Utah, saying the agency did not consider how the air pollution from developing the leases would “adversely impact public health, the environment, the climate, and treasured public lands like Dinosaur National Monument” (Rocky Mountain Wild, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-1608, D. Colo.).
WASHINGTON, Pa. — A Pennsylvania judge on June 4 ruled that a formerly sealed document indicating a $3 million hydraulic fracturing settlement was reached among companies and several residents, which was accidentally made public after it was posted on a court website, may be published (Stacey Haney v. Range Resources-Appalachia LLC, No. 2012-3534, Pa. Comm. Pls., Washington Co.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A panel of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court on June 6 ruled that a woman did not have legal standing to challenge a local municipality’s decision to grant a hydraulic fracturing permit to companies that seek to build a developmental well and well pad in the township (Jane Worthington v. Mount Pleasant Township, et al., No. 1149 CD 2018, Pa. Cmwlth., 2019 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 523).
LAFAYETTE, La. — A federal judge in Louisiana on May 31 transferred a hydraulic fracturing patent dispute to Texas federal court after he ruled that although the case could remain in its current jurisdiction, the object of the patent and key witnesses are located in Texas (Extreme Technologies LLC v. Stabil Drill Specialties LLC, No. 19-219, W.D. La.).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An environmental group on June 3 sued the Trump administration in New Mexico federal court, contending that the administration failed to take a “hard look” and fully assess the significance of the climate impact associated with its approval of hydraulic fracturing leases in violation of federal law (WildEarth Guardians v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-505, D. N.M.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court on May 31 vacated a lower court ruling that a local municipality’s objections to a hydraulic fracturing permit were “insufficient” to show that the impact would be detrimental. The majority said that testimony of residents who objected to the permit was “relevant and probative” (EQT Production Company, et al. v. Borough of Jefferson Hills, No. 4 WAP 2018, Pa. Sup.).
TULSA, Okla. — The Pawnee Nation on May 30 filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court contending that when the Trump administration approved permits for hydraulic fracturing on tribal land, it violated federal law by failing to address the impact of drilling on water pollution and did not assess the risk of earthquakes (Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 16-cv-697, N.D. Okla.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Native American and conservation groups on May 17 filed a brief in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that, in a case regarding a federal agency’s decision to reinstate hydraulic fracturing leases on tribal land in Montana, the Trump administration’s argument opposing the groups’ appeal fails (W.A. Moncrief, Jr. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-5340, D.C. Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Trump administration on May 29 filed a notice of appeal in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals regarding a district court’s ruling that President Donald J. Trump’s executive order that opened areas of the Outer Continental Shelf off the coast of Alaska for oil and gas drilling is “unlawful” because it exceeded the president’s authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) (League of Conservation Voters, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., Nos. 19-35460, 19-35461 and 19-35462, 9th Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS — A company that conducted fracking operations on an insured’s facility on May 15 filed a petition asking a panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider its ruling that reversed a federal court's finding that a site pollution legal liability insurer waived its subrogation rights under an onshore master services agreement (MSA) (Halliburton Energy Services Inc. v. Ironshore Specialty Insurance Co., No. 17-20678 consolidated with No. 18-20239, 5th Cir.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on May 14 ruled that three state senators did not have the right to intervene a lawsuit over hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin (DRB) because they provided no evidence that they were parties to the litigation (Wayne Land and Mineral Group LLC v. Delaware River Basin Commission, No. 16-897, M.D. Pa., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81294).
WILMINGTON, Del. — The CEO of a hydraulic fracturing company on May 15 filed a first-day declaration in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware, contending that the company has been unable to negotiate agreements with its creditors and owes nearly $78 million following production losses that stem from a well explosion in Pennsylvania (In re: Edgemarc Energy Holdings LLC, et al., No. 19-1104, D. Del. Bkcy.).
KINGFISHER, Okla. — An energy company on May 3 filed a demand for a jury trial in Oklahoma federal court in its negligence lawsuit against two hydraulic fracturing companies that it contends damaged a well through the use of shock waves that impaired the company’s equipment (Cimarron Energy LLC v. Newfield Exploration Mid-Continent Inc., et al., No. 19-369, W.D. Okla.).