WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Aug. 14 moved in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by 14 states, the District of Columbia and the city of Chicago related to the EPA's delay in issuing a final rule to regulate methane emissions, arguing that the case is moot because the EPA has now issued a final rule (New York, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 18-773, D. D.C.).
HOUSTON — A shareholder filed a securities fraud lawsuit on Aug. 13 against a hydraulic fracturing operator in Texas federal court, contending that the company made materially false and misleading statements regarding, among other things, its compliance with environmental laws in Pennsylvania where the attorney general had filed a criminal case against the company for groundwater contamination (John Gordon Windler v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, et al., No. 20-2827, S.D Texas).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Aug. 13 announced its final rule on methane emissions, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and greenhouse gas emissions from hydraulic fracturing operations, saying it was still protecting human health and the environment even as it rescinded Obama-era regulations that called for increased monitoring of well sites.
HOUSTON — A Texas appeals panel on Aug. 11 affirmed a lower court's ruling that dismissed a hydraulic fracturing sand company's breach of contract claim against a silica company, saying there was no violation of the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA), but it reversed the lower court's ruling that the claim was filed frivolously (Keane Frac LP v. SP Silica Sales LLC, No. 01-19-00847, Texas App., 1st Dist.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two petitioners on Aug. 7 urged the Patent Trial and Appeal Board to cancel five claims of a patented packer apparatus used in hydraulic fracturing, on grounds that such tools "have been known in the oil and gas industry for more than fifty years" (Exacta Frac Energy Services Inc., et al. v. Paul Bernard Lee, No. IPR2020-01424, PTAB).
CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 30 issued an order holding in abeyance the appeal brought by leaseholders in a royalty dispute with hydraulic fracturing company Chesapeake Exploration LLC pending resolution of Chesapeake's Chapter 11 bankruptcy case (Zehentbauer Family Land LP, et al. v. Chesapeake Exploration LLC, No. 20-3469, 6th Cir.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A nonprofit group that advocates for public health and protection of the environment on July 17 filed an amicus curiae brief in a Pennsylvania federal court on behalf of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), arguing that hydraulic fracturing should not be permitted in the basin because "adverse human health impacts" have been caused by fracking in areas outside the basin that are not subject to the DRBC's project review authority (Wayne Land and Mineral Group LLC v. Delaware River Basin Commission, No. 17-2590, M.D. Pa.).
PHILADELPHIA — Attorneys for a hydraulic fracturing operators and a company that made custom drilling rigs under a contract between the two parties on July 2 presented oral arguments before the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals whether a district court ruling in favor of the fracking company should be reversed (Orion Drilling Company LLC v. EQT Production Company, No. 19-3007, 3rd Cir.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — A hydraulic fracturing services company on July 28 filed a brief in Delaware state court contending that an oil and gas exploration company's claim for breach of implied covenant must be dismissed because it is duplicative of its breach of contract claim in a dispute over costs owed under the master service agreement (MSA) the parties entered (Gulfport Energy Corporation v. Stingray Pressure Pumping LLC, No. N19C-12-143, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 5 vacated and remanded an appeal by a hydraulic fracturing industry trade group, ruling that it lacked jurisdiction to challenge a rule promulgated by the federal government that levies penalties related to oil and gas leases on federal land if the lessees fail to accurately report and pay the value of their oil and gas royalties (American Petroleum Institute v. U.S. Department of the Interior, No. 18-8070, 10th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration on July 31 filed a brief in the District of Columbia District Court contending that the U.S. Supreme Court case cited by Native American tribes in the dispute over President Donald J. Trump's decision to reduce the size of two national monuments for hydraulic fracturing purposes is "not on point" (Hopi Tribe, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2590; Utah Diné Bikéyah, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2605, Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2606, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on July 30 denied a motion by environmental groups and let stand the Trump administration's repeal of an oil and gas valuation rule for hydraulic fracturing royalties on Indian lands, despite a prior ruling that the administration's action violated federal law (State of California, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 17-5948, N.D. Calif.).
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Environmental groups on July 27 filed a brief in Alaska federal court contending that the court should vacate regulations including an environmental assessment (EA) performed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) because it violated federal law when it approved seismic testing for potential hydraulic fracturing operations in the Cook Inlet. The groups say seismic testing threatens marine mammals (Cook Inletkeeper v. Wilbur Ross, et al., No. 19-238, D. Alaska).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Sunoco Pipeline LP on July 28 filed a brief with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) contending that residents who oppose the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline do not offer any evidence to support their allegation that there are potential consequences of a worst-case catastrophic release of highly volatile liquids harmful to human health (Meghan Flynn, et al. v. Sunoco Pipeline LP, No. C-2018-3006116, Pa. PUC).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Native American tribes on July 24 filed a notice in the District of Columbia District Court contending that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision McGirt v. Oklahoma supports their argument that President Donald J. Trump violated the Antiquities Act when he reduced the size of two national monuments (Hopi Tribe, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2590; Utah Diné Bikéyah, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2605, Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2606, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An environmental advocacy group on July 24 sued the U.S. Department of the Treasury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking the release of nonexempt information concerning its implementation of the department's COVID-19 relief programs, specifically with regard to money given to special interest groups that include those in the hydraulic fracturing industry (Friends of the Earth, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Treasury, No. 20-2031, D. D.C.).
HOUSTON — Hydraulic fracturing operator Bruin Williston Holdings LLC on July 24 filed an adversary proceeding in federal bankruptcy court in Texas, seeking a declaration that covenants contained in a gas purchasing agreement with a midstream energy company do not "run with the land" and can therefore be avoided in Chapter 11 bankruptcy (Bruin Williston Holdings LLC v. Targa Badlands LLC [In re: Bruin E&P Partners LLC, et al.], Adv. No. 20-03323, No. 20-33605, S.D. Texas Bkcy.).
AUSTIN, Texas — A public advocacy group and two ranchers sued the Railroad Commission of Texas on July 22, arguing that it violated state law when it issued emergency orders due to the new coronavirus pandemic, which allow abandoned oil wells to go unplugged, waste pits to go unremediated and oil and gas to be injected and stored underground in a formation other than a salt dome, which threatens to pollute the groundwater (Public Citizen Inc., et al. v. Railroad Commission of Texas, et al., No. D-1-GN-20-003795, Texas 53rd Jud. Dist., Travis Co.).
NEW YORK — A shareholder on July 21 filed a putative class action in New York federal court seeking to recover damages from an energy company and its officers for allegedly violating federal securities laws by making materially false and misleading statements about the company's business, operations and financial health (Frank Visser, et al. v. Energy Recovery Inc., et al., No. 20-5647, S.D. N.Y.).
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A federal judge in Wyoming on July 21 lifted the stay of proceedings in the state of Wyoming's challenge to the implementation of the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule with regard to hydraulic fracturing operations on public and tribal lands (Wyoming, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 16-285, D. Wyo.).