SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Dec. 21 filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that it should uphold a lower court’s summary judgment ruling that environmental groups lacked standing to pursue claims challenging the BLM’s decision to rescind the 2016 methane waste prevention rule that pertains to the venting and flaring of methane in hydraulic fracturing operations (California v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., Nos. 20-16157 and 20-16158, 9th Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 23 denied a petition for rehearing en banc in a hydraulic fracturing lawsuit and let stand the panel’s earlier decision, which held that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) met the federal requirements for a 2017 lease sale in the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR) in Alaska (Northern Alaska Environmental Center, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 19-35008, 9th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A hydraulic fracturing sand company on Dec. 15 filed a reply brief in the U.S. Supreme Court contending that a municipality in Minnesota that opposes the company’s takings clause case “barely tries to deny that the questions presented are cert-worthy,” and it says the commerce clause warrants certiorari (Minnesota Sands LLC v. County of Winona, Minnesota, No. 20-441, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Environmental groups on Dec. 16 filed a response brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that the decision of federal agencies to grant hydraulic fracturing leases was “substantively and procedurally unlawful” and, therefore, the lower court ruling that vacated the leases should stand (Montana Wildlife Federation v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 20-35609, 9th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. government on Dec. 9 filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a hydraulic fracturing pipeline company that seeks reversal of a federal appeals court’s decision that determined that the company does not have all the rights of the federal government with regard to the power of eminent domain. The solicitor general says the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the authority under the Natural Gas Act (NGA) to grant any holder of a certificate of public convenience that right (PennEast Pipeline Company LLC v. New Jersey, et al., No. 19-1039, U.S. Sup.).
AUSTIN, Texas — The residents and the hydraulic fracturing pipeline company they were suing for contamination of an aquifer filed a joint motion to dismiss the case on Dec. 14 after reaching a settlement that did not disclose the specifics of the agreement (Dr. Teri Albright, et al. v. Permian Highway Pipeline LLC, et al., No. 20-651, W.D. Texas).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A municipality in Minnesota on Dec. 4 filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that it should not hear a hydraulic fracturing sand company’s takings clause case under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because the Minnesota Supreme Court decision being appealed is “factbound, implicates no division of authority, and is entirely correct” (Minnesota Sands LLC v. County of Winona, Minnesota, No. 20-441, U.S. Sup.).
PHILADELPHIA — Vulnerable persons with severe heart failure might be more susceptible to the adverse effects of hydraulic fracturing that could lead to hospitalization, according to a study performed by researchers at Drexel University in Philadelphia and published Dec. 7 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
BISMARCK, N.D. — A federal magistrate judge in North Dakota on Nov. 20 granted a joint motion to stay a land dispute regarding mineral rights pending the resolution of two separate cases that involve the same legal issue, namely, the accurate location of the boundary between the bed of the Missouri River and tracts of land riparian to the river owned by the federal government
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on Nov. 16 filed an addendum on standing in District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, supporting its reply brief in which it argues that the District Court should hear a hydraulic fracturing pipeline case because the defendants’ attempt to deny jurisdiction “would work a manifest injustice if applied retroactively” (Environmental Defense Fund v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 20-1016, D.C. Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Attorneys at the New York University School of Law on Oct. 28 filed an amicus curiae brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that it should reverse the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) decision to rescind the 2016 methane waste prevention rule that pertains to the venting and flaring of methane in hydraulic fracturing operations because the cost-benefit analysis performed by the BLM reveals that its decision relied on “arbitrary assumptions that are inconsistent with the record” (California v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 20-16157, 9th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee on Dec. 9 released a report by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) pertaining to lease revenues from hydraulic fracturing activities and criticized the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for engaging in a practice that allows companies to “lock up millions of acres of public lands for decades” while taxpayers “receive pennies in return.”
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A pipeline company on Dec. 8 appealed to the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) an order issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) prohibiting it from operating a pipeline that would carry hydraulically fractured oil and gas across part of the state, contending that it has met the DEP’s requirements and should be permitted to use the pipeline even without completed plans for controlling pollution and preventing landslides (ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al., No. N/A, Pa. EHB).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The state of California and others filed a brief in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 7, contending that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cannot offer a reasoned explanation for its decision to rescind the 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule, which regulates venting and flaring on hydraulic fracturing operations (California, et al. v. Andrew Wheeler, No. 20-1357, Environmental Defense Fund, et al. v. Andrew Wheeler, et al., No. 20-1359, [consolidated] D.C. Cir.).
PITTSBURGH — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Dec. 2 denied a hydraulic fracturing company’s motion to dismiss securities class claims against it, ruling that the plaintiffs have sufficiently pleaded claims for unreasonable accounting practices that would have distorted public information regarding merger projections (In re EQT Corporation Securities Litigation, No. 19-754, W.D. Pa.).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A group referred to as the Navajo Allottees, who are intervenors in a hydraulic fracturing permit lawsuit brought by environmental groups and a tribal entity against federal agencies and officials, on Nov. 9 filed a brief in New Mexico federal court stating that “income from oil and gas activity, including the permits challenged by Plaintiffs, is the sole lifeline for many Navajo Allottees” and, therefore, they agree with the position taken by the government (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-703, D. N.M.).
DENVER — The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) on Nov. 23 issued an announcement that it has changed its mission to “regulating,” rather than “fostering,” oil and gas development in a manner that “protects public health, safety, welfare, the environment and wildlife resources.” The change was required by the passage of Colorado Senate Bill 19-181.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal judge in New Mexico on Nov. 19 reiterated his dismissal of a lawsuit brought by an environmental group opposing federal leases for hydraulic fracturing, ruling that the secretary of the Interior and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) did not violate any federal laws when the BLM approved the leases (WildEarth Guardians v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-505, D. N.M.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 23 denied rehearing of a case brought by a New York couple who contended that the state of New York's ban on hydraulic fracturing is a violation of their constitutional rights. The Supreme Court originally declined to hear the case on Oct. 5 (David R. Morabito, et ux. v. New York, No. 19-1319, U.S. Sup.).
BISMARCK, N.D. — A hydraulic fracturing well services company on Nov. 18 sued a consulting firm in North Dakota federal court seeking more than $3 million in damages for the firm’s failure to properly handle a well blowout that resulted in an oil spill and the eventual abandonment of the well itself (Henry Hill Oil Services LLC v. Stomley Sales & Consulting LLC, No. 20-214, D. N.D.).