WASHINGTON, D.C. — Environmental advocacy groups on Nov. 7 filed two separate amended complaints in District of Columbia federal court, each contending that President Donald J. Trump’s executive order that reduced the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSNM), which the groups say was partly motivated by a desire to access land for hydraulic fracturing, is “an unconstitutional and ultra vires exercise of a power committed to Congress and not delegated to the Executive Branch.” The complaints were amended to include the declarations of numerous residents affected by the reduction of the monuments (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 — An energy company on Nov. 26 filed a brief in Texas appeals court contending that the court should rule that a hydraulic fracturing company’s production units cannot exceed 160 acres each because the fracking company’s claim to leases that have terminated is a violation of the state of Texas’ approach to contract construction (MRC Permian Company v. Point Energy Partners Permian LLC, et al., No. 08-19-00124, Texas. App., 8th Dist., El Paso).
SAN ANTONIO — A group of institutional investors in a hydraulic fracturing services company on Nov. 22 filed a brief in Texas federal court contending that they should be appointed as the lead plaintiff in a securities class action lawsuit against the company in which the shareholders say the company violated federal law when it failed to disclose certain issues in documents it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in preparation for an initial public offering (IPO) (Richard Logan v. ProPetro Holding Corp., et al., No. 19-217, W.D. Texas).
OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge in Oklahoma on Nov. 19 granted residents’ motion for voluntary dismissal of their earthquake lawsuit against a hydraulic fracturing company and others, as the plaintiffs intend to refile their claims against the nondiverse defendants in state court (A.J. James, et al. v. Berexco LLC, et al., No. 19-646, W.D. Okla.).
FRESNO, Calif. — An energy company on Nov. 5 filed a brief in California appellate court contending that it should affirm a lower court decision that correctly held that the decision-making process used by the California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to issue hydraulic fracturing permit approvals was proper and the state’s environmental review process does not apply (Association of Irritated Residents v. California Department of Conservation, No. F078460, Calif. App., 5th Dist.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC on Dec. 2 filed separate briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court, each contending that the USFS has authority, jurisdiction and power to grant rights of way through federal lands to build a pipeline that will carry hydraulically fractured gas (Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et al., No. 18-1587, U.S. Sup., U.S. Forest Service, et al. v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et al., No. 18-1584, U.S. Sup. [consolidated]).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Members of the Navajo Tribe on Nov. 29 filed a brief in New Mexico federal court contending that they should be permitted to add more mineral rights and landowners as intervenors in a lawsuit brought by environmental advocacy groups against the Trump administration for the approval of hydraulic fracturing permits in the Mancos Shale Play (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-703, D. N.M.).
NEW CASTLE, Del. — A hydraulic fracturing sand company on Oct. 30 filed a brief in Delaware state court arguing that it should deny a well services company’s motion to establish Delaware’s Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) as the applicable law in the parties’ breach of contract dispute (Smart Sand Inc. v. U.S. Well Services LLC, No. N19C-01-144, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
TACOMA, Wash. — Environmental advocacy groups on Nov. 12 sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Washington federal court, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, contending that it did not comply with federal law when it approved permits to build a methanol manufacturing facility on the Columbia River that would use hydraulically fractured gas (Columbia Riverkeeper, et al. v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 19-6071, W.D. Wash.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Department of Conservation (DEC) on Nov. 19 announced that it will halt approvals of new hydraulic fracturing wells and strengthen rules for public health and safety near fracking sites, as the state seeks to become carbon-neutral by 2045 and attempts to manage the decline of oil production in California.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A divided Ohio Supreme Court on Nov. 26 reversed a lower court and held that a 21-year statute of limitations period in Ohio law applies to a claim for declaratory judgment that an oil and gas hydraulic fracturing lease has expired by its own terms for lack of production. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court for an evaluation of the claims in light of the correct statute of limitations (Barry L. Browne, et al. v. Artex Energy, et al., No. 2019-OHIO-4809, Ohio Sup., 2019 Ohio LEXIS 2414).
SAN FRANCISCO — The state of Alaska on Nov. 22 filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) is “unambiguous” and it allows President Donald J. Trump to modify past presidential orders and open the Outer Continental Shelf off the coast of Alaska for oil and gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing (League of Conservation Voters, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., Nos. 19-35460, 19-35461 and 19-35462, 9th Cir.).
AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas appeals court on Nov. 20 denied en banc reconsideration of a split decision in which a panel held that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) properly approved a permit for an underground injection control (UIC) well in a shale formation where hydraulic fracturing operations are conducted, despite residents’ concerns about groundwater contamination (Nicky E. Dyer, et al. v. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, et al., No. 03-17-0499, Texas App., 3rd Dist.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) on Nov. 21 sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its administrator in California federal court, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief for alleged failure to comply with federal law when it exempted an aquifer from the protections of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to allow the injection of hydraulic fracturing wastewater and other fluids into the aquifer (Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 19-7664, N.D. Calif.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Nov. 20 ruled that a district court has subject matter jurisdiction over a complaint brought by residents who contend that a hydraulic fracturing company is liable for drinking water contamination and other damages as a result of its construction of a pipeline in Susquehanna County, Pa. (Sheila Douglas, et al. v. Southwestern Energy Production Co., et al., No. 17-1830, M.D. Pa., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 200888).
NEW YORK — A stockholder in a hydraulic fracturing company on Nov. 19 sued that company in New York federal court contending that it violated federal securities laws when it proposed a merger with another fracking company because the federal registration statement related to the deal contained “materially incomplete and misleading information” (Kelly Small v. Jagged Peak Energy Inc., et al., No. 19-10698, S.D. N.Y.).
DENVER — A federal judge in Colorado on Nov. 19 transferred to Utah federal court a hydraulic fracturing lease dispute pertaining to federal public lands in Utah because the decisions at issue and the impact of those decisions affect Utah rather than Colorado (Rocky Mountain Wild, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-1608, D. Colo.).
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.).