EL PASO, Texas — A Texas appellate panel on April 24 reversed and remanded a case, ruling that a hydraulic fracturing company did not show that the Texas civil code bars the plaintiffs’ claims that the company’s negligence in drilling a well resulted in an explosion that injured the plaintiffs (Bryce J. Wallace, et al. v. Energen Resources Corporation, No. 08-17-00248, Texas App., 8th Dist., 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS 3490).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Holders of hydraulic fracturing royalty rights on April 22 filed a putative class action against a fracking company in a federal court in Ohio, contending that the company has violated their lease agreements by underpaying royalties (Elaine Grissom, et al. v. Antero Resources Corporation, No. 20-2028, S.D. Ohio).
DENVER — Creditors of a hydraulic fracturing company on April 23 filed a brief in Colorado federal bankruptcy court contending that $1.1 million they gave to the now-bankrupt company prior to its Chapter 11 filing should not be used to pay any joint interest billing obligations (JIBs) it has with other parties (In re: Sklar Exploration Company LLC, No. 12377, D. Colo. Bkcy.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on April 21 ruled that there are genuine disputes of material fact between the state and a trust that owns land as to which party owns the mineral rights that pertain to land situated above the Marcellus Shale play and, therefore, neither party is entitled to summary judgment. The judge said due process had been satisfied and the issue to be determined is whether the subsurface estate was properly sold at a tax sale in 1908 (Pennsylvania, et al. v. Thomas E. Proctor Heirs Trust, et al., No. 12-1567, M.D. Pa.).
BOISE, Idaho — A hydraulic fracturing company on April 17 appealed to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals a federal magistrate judge’s ruling that granted partial summary judgment on one claim made by environmental advocacy groups that contend that the secretary of the Interior and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wrongly approved fracking leases without following federal laws designed to allow for public notice and comment periods. The appeal is one of four separate appeals of the same ruling lodged by various parties to the litigation (Western Watersheds Project, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 20-35342, 9th Cir.).
MIDLAND, Texas — A shareholder in a hydraulic fracturing company on April 17 filed a complaint in Texas federal court contending that it is liable for violations of the Securities Exchange Act because the officers of the company engaged in “a number of improper and undisclosed related party transactions” as part of its initial public offering (IPO) (Jye-Chun Chang v. Dale Redman, et al., No. 20-95, W.D. Texas).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A federal judge in Montana on April 15 ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not follow the requirements of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it reissued a permit to resume construction on the Keystone XL Pipeline (Northern Plains Resource Council, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 19-44, D. Mont.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on April 14 announced that it had reached an agreement with hydraulic fracturing operator Range Resources-Appalachia LLP to pay $198,920 for violations of the state’s Air Pollution Control Act (APCA). The agreement itself was reached on April 9.
BISMARCK, N.D. — The secretary of the Interior on April 13 filed a brief in North Dakota federal court contending that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is not required to apply Native American tribal law to hydraulic fracturing wells on fee land that drill into federal and fee minerals (Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Nation v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 19-37, D. N.D.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Native American advocacy group on April 10 filed a brief in District of Columbia federal court contending that it should grant summary judgment on the issue of whether the group has standing to assert claims 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]).
FRESNO, Calif. — An appellate panel in California on April 8 affirmed a lower court and held that review of hydraulic fracturing permits under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was unnecessary because the project approvals were ministerial in nature under the limited facts of the case (Association of Irritated Residents v. California Department of Conservation, No. F078460, Calif. App., 5th Dist.).
DALLAS — A group of hydraulic fracturing companies on April 2 filed a petition for writ of mandamus in Texas state appeals court, contending that a lower court “clearly abused its discretion” when it disregarded federal substantive law and state procedure meant to “weed out defective claims” related to a shareholder class action brought against one fracking company in connection with its initial public offering (IPO) (In Re: FTS International, Inc., et al., No. 05-20-00189-CV, Texas App., 5th Dist.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — A hydraulic fracturing services company on April 2 filed a counterclaim in Delaware state court contending that an oil and gas exploration company that sued it for breach of contract is actually the party at fault in breaching the master service agreement (MSA) the parties had entered (Gulfport Energy Corporation v. Stingray Pressure Pumping LLC, No. N19C-12-143, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
DALLAS — An appeals panel in Texas on March 31 affirmed a lower court’s ruling and held that an oilfield services company breached its contract with a hydraulic fracturing operator when it failed to properly address the offset for the fixed costs of services under the agreement (Cudd Pressure Control Inc., et al. v. EXCO Resources Inc., et al., No. 05-16-1518, Texas App., 5th Dist.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Numerous groups on March 23 filed amicus curiae briefs in support of a pipeline company’s appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court, contending that it should reverse a ruling that a company did not have the authority to exercise the federal government’s power of eminent domain to secure rights of way for the construction of an interstate pipeline that would carry hydraulically fractured gas (PennEast Pipeline Company LLC v. New Jersey, et al., No. 19A836, U.S. Sup.).
CINCINNATI — A federal judge in Ohio on March 30 granted summary judgment to hydraulic fracturing companies that contended that their way of calculating royalties for leaseholders using what is known as the netback method was correct based on precedent (Zehentbauer Family Land LP, et al. v. Chesapeake Exploration LLC, No. 15-2449, N.D. Ohio).
ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio — A group of hydraulic fracturing leaseholders on Feb. 28 sued a fracking company in Ohio state court, contending that it breached its agreements with them by failing to pay the proper amount of royalties on the oil and gas extracted from the land that is subject to the leases (John Price, et al. v. Gulfport Energy Corporation, No. 20CV31, Ohio Comm. Pls., Belmont Co.).
PITTSBURGH — A hydraulic fracturing company on March 26 filed a brief in Pennsylvania federal court contending that a securities class action against it alleging violations of the Securities Exchange Act (SEA) and Securities Exchange Commission regulations should be dismissed because the plaintiffs fail to adequately allege that any corporate statements were false when they were made regarding merger projections (In re EQT Corporation Securities Litigation, No. 19-754, W.D. Pa.).
HOUSTON — An executive with a hydraulic fracturing sand company on March 29 filed a first-day declaration in Texas federal bankruptcy court stating that a reduction in demand for fracked oil and gas reduced the company’s revenues from $530 million to $34 million (In re CARBO Ceramics Inc., No. 20-31973, S.D. Texas Bkcy.).
DENVER — A federal judge in Colorado on March 6 ordered the U.S. government to file a report within 60 days, including any necessary affidavits or exhibits, advising whether it is in possession of documents sought by residents, environmental organizations and nuclear workers advocacy groups pertaining 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 (Alliance of Nuclear Workers Advocacy Groups, et al. v. United States, No. 19-76, D. Colo.).