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).
DENVER — A federal judge in Colorado on Oct. 17 partially granted a petition for review of a federal government’s resource management plan (RMP) pertaining to hydraulic fracturing but deferred the final ruling until additional briefing is filed (Wilderness Workshop, et al. v. United States Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 16-1822, D. Colo.; 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178506).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A panel of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court on Nov. 8, in an unpublished opinion, affirmed a lower court’s ruling that a township’s zoning hearing board (ZHB) did not err when it determined that a hydraulic fracturing company’s proposed operation would not adversely impact the community (Protect PT v. Penn Township Zoning Hearing Board, et al., No. 39-42 C.D. 2018, Pa. Cmwlth., 2018 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 594).
SAN ANTONIO — A federal judge in Texas on Nov. 6 referred to a U.S. magistrate judge the case of a Russian citizen who has sued a hydraulic fracturing company for securities fraud, seeking damages allegedly caused by the company’s “fraudulent scheme” in which he says the company violated federal laws and “successfully tricked” him into investing $2.6 million (Nikolay Rastorguev v. David Sepiachvili, et al., No. 18-966, W.D. Texas).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida voters, by a margin of more than 2-to-1, on Nov. 6 approved an amendment to the state constitution that prohibits offshore hydraulic fracturing for the exploration or extraction of oil and natural gas, according to the Florida Department of State.
DENVER — Colorado voters on Nov. 6 rejected a measure that would have increased the amount of space needed as a buffer zone between new oil and gas development operations and homes, schools and playgrounds, according to the Colorado Department of State.
DENVER — Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and other officials in the Trump administration on Nov. 5 filed a brief in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that environmental groups lack standing to challenge any of the hydraulic fracturing permits the administration approved in the Mancos Shale/Gallup formations (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 18-2089, 10th Cir.).
DENVER — A panel of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 6 ruled that two hydraulic fracturing companies did not owe a duty of care to two men who were injured when a lithium battery exploded when they were cleaning a drilling device used in fracking operations. The men were employees of a contractor company that provided the battery to the fracking companies (Jacob McGehee, et al. v. Forest Oil Corp., et al., No. 17-6238, 10th Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA — A panel of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 30 ruled that a group of landowners who opposed an interstate gas pipeline “fail to recognize” a federal court’s equitable power to enter preliminary injunctions once substantive rights are determined with regard to the standard condemnation powers granted to natural gas companies and that the pipeline company met all the requirements to exercise eminent domain (Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company LLC v. Permanent Easements for 2.14 Acres, et al., No. 17-3075; Transcontinental Gas Pipeline LLC v. Permanent Easement for 2.02 Acres, et al., No. 17-3076; Transcontinental Gas Pipeline LLC v. Permanent Easement for 1.33 Acres, et al., No. 17-3115; Transcontinental Gas Pipeline LLC v. Permanent Easement for 0.94 Acres, et al., No. 17-3116, 3rd Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals was recently told by a patent licensee that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board erred in deeming obvious various claims of a patented system for fracturing multiple stages of an uncased oil or gas well (Rapid Completions LLC v. Weatherford International LLC, et al., No. 18-1859, Fed. Cir.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A divided Pennsylvania appeals court on Oct. 26 affirmed a lower court ruling that concluded that a local zoning hearing board properly issued a hydraulic fracturing permit despite objections that the approval to drill violated state law (Dolores Frederick, et al. v. Allegheny Township Zoning Hearing Board, No. 2295 C.D. 2015, Pa. Cmwlth., 2018 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 593).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on Oct. 24 granted conditional approval to a hydraulic fracturing company’s plan to conduct offshore drilling in Alaska’s outer continental shelf, as environmental groups continue to contest in Alaska federal court the executive order issued by President Donald Trump that opened the area to fracking (League of Conservation Voters, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-101, D. Alaska).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 3 docketed a hydraulic fracturing lease dispute in which Ohio residents contend that their claim under the False Claims Act (FCA) against the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) was wrongly dismissed because the MWCD was aware that the leases in question violated an obligation to the United States (United States, ex rel. Leatra Harper, et al. v. Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, No. 18-418, U.S. Sup.).
BOISE, Idaho — Environmental groups that have challenged federal leases for hydraulic fracturing on Oct. 17 filed an amended complaint in Idaho federal court contending that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and other government parties violated federal law when it approved the sale of fracking leases in various western states (Western Watersheds Project, et al. v. Ryan K. Zinke, et al., No. 18-187, D. Idaho).
DENVER — An attorney for the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and another representing residents on Oct. 16 debated before the Colorado Supreme Court whether the COGCC has the discretion and authority to engage in rule-making regarding the agency’s responsibility to protect public health in its development of oil and gas resources through hydraulic fracturing (Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, et al. v. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, et al., No. 2017SC297, Colo. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation on Oct. 15 filed a brief in District of Columbia federal court arguing that a hydraulic fracturing company and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) should not be permitted to transfer a fracking permit dispute to North Dakota because the tribe’s preference for venue is “entitled to substantial deference” (Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Nation v. The United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-1462, D. D.C.).
DENVER — The attorney for two men who were injured by the explosion of a lithium battery related to a hydraulic fracturing operation and the attorney representing the companies that operated the well debated the issue of duty and foreseeability of the risk of harm before a panel of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 24 (Jacob McGehee, et al. v. Forest Oil Corp., et al., No. 17-6238, 10th Cir.).