SALT LAKE CITY — Two environmental groups filed a joint brief in Utah federal court on Sept. 19 contending that the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) motion to dismiss their consolidated complaints challenging federal hydraulic fracturing leases lacks merit (Friends of Cedar Mesa v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 19-13, and Southern Utah Wilderness Association v. David Bernhardt, No. 19-266, D. Utah).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M — A hydraulic fracturing company on Sept. 20 filed a brief in New Mexico federal court as an intervenor in a federal lease dispute, contending that a Native American tribe and environmental advocacy groups have not established the requirements for a preliminary injunction to prevent fracking in the Mancos Shale Play (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-703, D. N.M.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A pipeline company on Sept. 11 filed a reply brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that it should review a lower court’s ruling that blocked the construction of a pipeline to carry hydraulically fractured oil and gas through portions of national forest land on grounds that the ruling “erroneously converts the Appalachian Trail into a 2,200-mile barrier to critical infrastructure” (Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et al., No. 18-1587, U.S. Sup.).
SAN ANTONIO — A shareholder on Sept. 16 filed a securities class action lawsuit against a provider of hydraulic fracturing and complementary services to leading upstream oil and gas companies, certain of its senior executives and others in Texas federal court, alleging that the defendants failed to disclose certain business and financial issues with the company in Securities and Exchange Commission documents issued in preparation of the company’s initial public offering (IPO) in violation of federal securities laws (Richard Logan v. ProPetro Holding Corp., et al., No. 19-217, W.D. Texas).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A clerk in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals on Sept. 13 issued an order telling the parties in a pipeline dispute to file briefs concerning how a similar, related pipeline lawsuit affects the case at hand (Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 18-1224, D.C. Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In competing reply briefs recently filed with the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, an appellant and cross-appellant continue to debate the essence of a disputed fracking patent, as well as whether the panel possesses appellate jurisdiction in the case (EnerPol LLC v. Schlumberger Technology Corp., Nos. 2019-1079, -1120, Fed. Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA — A panel of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 10 vacated and remanded a district court ruling and held that claims brought by a pipeline against the state of New Jersey should be dismissed because the pipeline company does not have all the rights of the federal government with regard to the power of eminent domain simply by virtue of the fact that the government delegated some of that power to the company (In re PennEast Pipeline Company LLC, No. 19-1192, 3rd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 27254).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Native American tribal group and advocates for the environment on Sept. 5 filed a brief in New Mexico federal court, arguing that a hydraulic fracturing trade group “failed to establish” that it should be allowed to intervene in a dispute over drilling permits issued by the Trump administration because its interests are already “adequately represented” by other parties (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-703, D. N.M.).
WICHITA, Kan. — A federal judge in Kansas on Sept. 3 dismissed two separate counterclaims brought by hydraulic fracturing operators against a gas storage company and partially granted the storage company’s motion to exclude the companies’ expert witness in a long-running legal dispute over the migration of stored natural gas to the property used by the fracking companies (Northern Natural Gas Company v. L.D. Drilling Inc., No. 08-1405, D. Kan., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149372).
CINCINNATI — Certification of a class of landowners suing for unpaid royalties under fracking leases was appropriate once the plaintiffs dropped their claim that the leases were breached when oil and gas was sold at below-market prices and stipulated that they will proceed only with their post-production-costs theory of liability, a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Aug. 15 (Zehentbauer Family Land, LP, et al. v. Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C., et al., No. 18-4139, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 24289).
FORT WORTH, Texas — A divided Texas appellate panel on Aug. 22 dissolved a temporary injunction and remanded a dispute between a hydraulic fracturing company and a town to trial court, concluding that the company did not show that an ordinance that imposes fines would lead to “irreparable injury” (Flower Mound v. EagleRidge Operating LLC, No. 02-18-00392, Texas App., 2nd Dist., Fort Worth, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 7561).
BOULDER, Colo. — A Colorado judge on Aug. 23 reopened a lawsuit in which the Colorado Supreme Court had previously held that local bans on hydraulic fracturing, as well as ordinances against the storage of fracking waste within city limits, are preempted by state law (Colorado Oil & Gas Association, et al. v. City of Longmont, Colo., et al., No. 2013CV63, Colo. Dist., Boulder Co.).
DENVER — A federal judge in Colorado on Sept. 4 denied a petition for a writ of mandamus sought by residents, environmental organizations and nuclear workers advocacy groups that wanted to order the U.S. government to provide records that pertain to a grand jury that investigated the actions of Rockwell International Corp. at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) former weapons-grade plutonium-239 processing facility, Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant, which is now being considered as a site for hydraulic fracturing operations. The judge ruled that the petitioners did not cite any legal authority for the proposition that they are entitled to the business records they seek (Alliance of Nuclear Workers Advocacy Groups, et al. v. United States, No. 19-76, D. Colo.).
PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania municipality on Aug. 9 filed a reply brief in the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that it should not have to pay sanctions against it that were won by a hydraulic fracturing company because political subdivisions in Pennsylvania are entitled to a stay (Pennsylvania General Energy Company LLC v. Grant Township, No. 19-2472, 3rd Cir.).
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — A federal judge in West Virginia on Aug. 29 denied a hydraulic fracturing company’s motion to alter a judgment issued by a jury in favor of a leaseholder couple that alleged breach of contract, but stayed the execution of the judgment pending a recalculation of prejudgment interest (Arnold K. Richards, et al. v. EQT Production Company, No. 17-50, N.D. W.Va., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147332).
RICHMOND, Va. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on Aug. 29 filed a brief in the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that a stay sought by groups that oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would carry hydraulically fractured oil and gas through West Virginia and Virginia, should be denied because the groups cannot show that they will suffer irreparable harm (Wild Virginia, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 19-1866, 4th Cir.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on Aug. 29 announced that it fined Sunoco Pipeline LP $319,461 for discharges of hazardous chemicals related to the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline, which is scheduled to transport hydraulically fractured oil and gas from shale formations in Pennsylvania to refineries in Marcus Hook, Pa.
SAN FRANCISCO — The state of Wyoming on Aug. 26 moved in California federal court for dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the states of California and Wyoming against the Trump administration related to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) revision of a 2016 rule that regulated venting and flaring of methane gas at hydraulic fracturing facilities. The state contends that the revision was proper because the BLM exceeded its statutory authority when it issued the rule in 2016 (California, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 18-5712, N.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma are back in federal court over their rights to royalty payments from oil and gas operations on tribal land, filing a class complaint Aug. 21 in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims seeking more than $100 million in damages from the government (William S. Fletcher, et al. v. United States, No. 1:19-cv-01246, Fed. Clms.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An environmental group on Aug. 21 filed a complaint against the Trump administration under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to compel compliance with the group’s request for communications among Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, individuals at his former lobbying firm and members of the oil and gas industry (Western Values Project v. U.S. Department of the Interior, No. 19-2527, D. D.C.).