HARRISBURG, Pa. — A divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court on June 1 ruled 4-3 to reverse a lower court’s decision and held that the evidentiary record does not support a municipality’s board of supervisors’ decision to grant a permit to a hydraulic fracturing company (Brian Gorsline, et al. v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfield Township v. Inflection Energy LLC, No. 67 MAP 2016, Pa. Sup.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court on June 1 partially affirmed and partially reversed preliminary injunctive relief granted by a lower court in a hydraulic fracturing dispute between the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and a fracking industry advocacy group that had argued that the state’s oil and gas regulations, referred to as Chapter 78, are “unlawful, illegal, void and unenforceable for various reasons” (Marcellus Shale Coalition v. Department of Environmental Protection of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al., 115 MAP 2016, Pa. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 4denied a petition for certiorari in a hydraulic fracturing pipeline case in which Pennsylvania residents argued that a state court decision wrongly permitted Sunoco Pipeline LP to use eminent domain authority to take private property for the construction of the pipeline (Homes for America Inc. v. Sunoco Pipeline LP, No. 17-1519, U.S. Sup.).
DENVER — A group of Colorado residents on May 25 filed a brief in the Colorado Supreme Court, arguing that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) has “the unequivocal duty and authority” 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.).
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A federal judge in West Virginia on May 23 partially granted and partially denied a hydraulic fracturing company’s motion to dismiss an oil and gas lease dispute, concluding that a leaseholder couple had valid breach of contract claims but did not have a claim for breach of the implied duty to protect against drainage (Janet C. Packard, et al. v. Antero Resources Corporation, No. 18-04, N.D. W.Va.; 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86520).
BOISE, Idaho — Environmental groups on April 30 sued the Trump administration in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, contending that it has taken “unlawful actions to lease and develop oil and gas resources on public lands” that will adversely impact essential habitats and that violate “bedrock environmental laws” (Western Watersheds Project, et al. v. Ryan K. Zinke, et al., No. 18-187, D. Idaho).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two U.S. senators on May 22 proposed legislation that would remove land around Chaco Canyon, N.M., from federal energy development through hydraulic fracturing and other means as a way to protect Chaco Culture National Historic Park, which the senators say is sacred to all residents of New Mexico.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation (PEDF) on May 17 sued the state of Pennsylvania and its governor, contending that they have misused funds obtained through the state’s oil and gas lease fund in violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution (Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation v. Pennsylvania, et al., No. N/A, Pa. Cmwlth.).
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A patented tubular seat and tubular actuating system for use in oil and gas fracturing is rendered obvious and anticipated by various prior art, according to a May 10 petition for inter partes review filed with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Packers Plus Energy Services Inc. v. Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations LLC, No. IPR2018-01030, PTAB).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 3 declined to award attorney fees to three oil and gas companies for a ruling against two Oklahoma property owners who challenged the U.S. government’s approval of drilling leases on an Indian reservation, saying the companies were not prevailing parties because the decision was on jurisdiction, not the merits of the case (Martha Donelson, et al. v. United States of America, et al., No. 16-5174, 10th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a May 4 holding, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed findings by a North Dakota federal judge that a hydraulic fracturing patent is unenforceable due to an inventor’s inequitable conduct before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) (Energy Heating LLC, et al. v. Heat-On-The-Fly LLC, et al., Nos. 2016-1559, -1893, -1894, Fed. Cir.).
MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Division of Hearings and Appeals (DHA) on May 4 ruled that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) did not have sufficient information to grant a permit to a company that wanted to build a hydraulic fracturing sand processing plant on wetlands, and it reversed the decision that issued the permit in the first place (In the Matter of Wetland Individual Permit, No. IP-WC-2016-42-00902, Wis. DNR).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania residents filed a notice of appeal with the state’s Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) on May 2 seeking review of the well permit issued to a hydraulic fracturing company contending that the permit fails to require the company to dispose of waste properly and it fails to require the company to deal with seismic events caused by drilling (Judith Wachisn, et al. v. Pennsylvania General Energy Company, No. N/A, PA EHB).
DENVER — The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) on April 2 filed a brief in the Colorado Supreme Court arguing that it should reverse a lower court’s decision and find that the agency acted within the regulatory framework that governs oil and gas activities in Colorado when it refused to suspend the issuance of permits to drill across the entire state (Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, et al. v. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, et al., No. 2017SC297, Colo. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on May 1 stayed briefing on three motions filed by organizations that want to intervene in a consolidated lawsuit brought by the Hopi Tribe and other parties that contend that the Trump administration’s decision to reduce the size of the two national monuments is unconstitutional (Hopi Tribe, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2590, D. D.C.).
BISMARCK, N.D. — A federal judge in North Dakota on May 3 lifted the stay in a hydraulic fracturing permit dispute to allow a company to move for dismissal of its lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) related to the agency’s decision to halt the issuance of permits to drill. The company seeks dismissal because a federal agency lifted its prohibition on the sale of permits in question (Slawson Exploration Company, Inc. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 17-166, D. N.D.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — The reorganized debtors in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of hydraulic fracturing company Triangle Petroleum Corp. on April 18 filed a brief in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware contending that it should disallow a claim for $302,040 filed by a man who performed work for the company before bankruptcy (In re: Triangle USA Petroleum Corp., et al., No. 16-11566, Ch. 11, Del. Bkcy.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal judge in Ohio on April 18 granted a hydraulic fracturing company’s motion to intervene in a dispute over the U.S. government’s decision to authorize oil and gas leasing in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest, ruling that the interests of other industry intervenors “do not adequately represent” the interests of the fracking company (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. United States Forest Service, et al., No. 17-372, S.D. Ohio).
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A federal judge in Wyoming on April 30 denied a motion by citizens’ groups and environmental advocacy organizations that sought to stay a previous order issued by the judge, which prevented the implementation of the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule with regard to hydraulic fracturing operations on public and tribal lands (Wyoming, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 16-285, D. Wyo.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on April 30 introduced bipartisan legislation that would levy a severance tax on hydraulically fractured natural gas, which the governor said would generated an estimated $248.7 million in the next fiscal year.