PITTSBURGH — Several retirement funds on Dec. 6 filed an amended federal securities class action in Pennsylvania federal court against a hydraulic fracturing company and some of its executives, contending that they violated the Securities Exchange Act (SEA) and Securities Exchange Commission regulations by committing securities fraud and engaging in insider trading (In re EQT Corporation Securities Litigation, No. 19-754, W.D. Pa.).
BISMARCK, N.D. — A hydraulic fracturing company on Dec. 12 sued a contractor in North Dakota federal court, contending that it violated the contract between the parties related to the design and drilling of new wells in North Dakota (Wave Petroleum Operating LLC v. New IPT Inc., No. 19-272, D. N.D.).
EL PASO, Texas — Texas landowners on Dec. 3 filed a brief in a state appeals court contending that a lower court erred when it granted summary judgment dismissal to a solar energy company in a dispute over claims that the construction of a solar energy facility on a tract of land prevented them from accessing the mineral rights underneath that land that had potential for hydraulic fracturing (Kenneth R. Lyle, et al. v. Midway Solar LLC, et al., No. 08-19-00216, Texas App., 8th Dist., 2019 Tx. App. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 4265).
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A hydraulic fracturing company on Dec. 26 sued an oil and gas exploration company in Wyoming federal court contending that it has breached the agreement the parties reached concerning the sale of property rights, leasehold interests and natural gas wells (Devon Energy Production Company LP v. Justice Oil & Gas LLC, et al., No. 19-267, D. Wyo.).
FORT WORTH, Texas — A Texas appellate panel on Dec. 19 affirmed a lower court ruling that a landowner was not entitled to royalties from hydraulic fracturing operations on a disputed tract of land because the previous owner of the land did not waive her rights (Richard D. Crawford v. XTO Energy Inc., No. 02-18-00217, Texas App., 2nd Dist., Fort Worth, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 11066).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Wilderness Society on Jan. 9 moved for partial summary judgment in District of Columbia federal court, contending that there is no genuine issue of disputed material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law in its lawsuit against President Donald J. Trump related to his executive order that reduced the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSNM), which the group says was partly motivated by a desire to access land for hydraulic fracturing (The Wilderness Society, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2587, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2591, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A Montana federal judge on Dec. 20 refused to dismiss claims by two Native American tribes that President Trump violated treaties, federal law and the U.S. Constitution by issuing a permit last year allowing work to continue on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline (Rosebud Sioux Tribe, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 4:18-cv-118, D. Mont., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 223887).
WILMINGTON, Del. — A hydraulic fracturing field services company on Jan. 7 filed its appeal brief in the Delaware Supreme Court contending that a lower court erred when it declared that a clause facilitating an initial public offering (IPO) authorized the other members of its energy company and investment fund to unilaterally exercise certain powers of the board of directors to proceed with the IPO (Williams Field Services Group LLC v. Caiman Energy II, et al., No. 488, 2019, Del. Sup.).
DENVER — Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt on Jan. 7 filed an answer in Colorado federal court contending that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) estimates of emissions associated with oil and gas production were consistent with the “reasonably foreseeable” development scenario for an area where hydraulic fracturing is proposed (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. United States Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 19-2869, D. Colo.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Dec. 24 quashed two appeals without prejudice, one by a hydraulic fracturing trade group and the other by a state environmental agency, each of which took issue with a Commonwealth Court decision regarding the statutory authority of state agencies to set fracking regulations. The Supreme Court did not elaborate on its decisions in the orders (The Marcellus Shale Coalition v. Department of Environmental Protection of Pennsylvania, et al., No. 66 MAP 2019 and No. 68 MAP 2019, Pa. Sup.).
DENVER — A federal judge in Colorado on Dec. 12 granted a motion by Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt seeking an extension of time in which to answer a complaint filed by environmental advocacy groups that sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) contending that they violated federal law when they approved a plan to open more than 1 million acres for hydraulic fracturing in Colorado. The order, which was issued only as a docket entry, also granted Bernhardt’s motion to file truncated responses to the claim (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. United States Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 19-2869, D. Colo.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — In an unpublished opinion, an appellate panel in Pennsylvania on Jan. 3 affirmed a lower court ruling that dismissed a complaint filed by landowners who contended that hydraulic fracturing leases they entered were not valid. The panel said the evidence showed that the landowners ratified the contracts in question (Donald Wilson, et al. v. Snyder Brothers, et al., No. 734 WDA 2019, Pa. Super., 2020 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 23).
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A group of oil and gas exploration companies on Dec. 30 filed a brief in Wyoming federal court contending that it should dismiss an antitrust lawsuit filed against them because the landowners who filed the case fail to state a claim for monopolization of mineral rights related to hydraulic fracturing in local shale plays (Dennis A. Black, et al. v. Occidental Petroleum Corporation, et al., No. 19-243, D. Wyo.).
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — An oil and gas company in a Dec. 17 response tells the Patent Trial and Appeal Board that it should confirm as patentable nine claims of a patented pressure actuated sleeve used in the hydraulic fracturing industry (Weatherford International LLC v. Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations LLC, No. IPR2019-00768, PTAB).
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Dec. 12 released its final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for hydraulic fracturing in eight central California counties and concluded that “there are no adverse environmental impacts due to hydraulic fracturing that cannot be alleviated.” The SEIS would allow fracking on a combined 1.6 million acres of public lands and a federal mineral estate.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Multiple parties on Dec. 9 filed amicus curiae briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court primarily in support of a hydraulic fracturing pipeline company and the federal agency that approved the pipeline’s construction through public forest lands. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) specifically argues that “the entire federal government” has “uniformly and sensibly” recognized the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) authority to grant rights-of-way (Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et al., No. 18-1587, U.S. Forest Service, et al. v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et al., No. 18-1584, U.S. Sup. [consolidated]).
RICHMOND, Va. — Environmental groups on Nov. 12 filed a status report in the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that despite the court’s grant of a stay related to the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), “irreparable injury is continuing” (Wild Virginia, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 19-1866, 4th Cir.).
OKLAHOMA CITY — A hydraulic fracturing company on Oct. 30 filed an answer and affirmative defenses in Oklahoma federal court in a contract dispute with a well services company, contending that the claims against it fail and that the case should be dismissed because the well services company failed to abide by the forum-selection clause contained in the contract the parties signed (Star Well Services Inc. v. Western Oilfields Supply Company, No. 19-672, W.D. Okla.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Environmental advocacy groups on Nov. 7 filed two separate amended complaints in District of Columbia federal court, each contending that President Donald J. Trump’s executive order that reduced the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSNM), which the groups say was partly motivated by a desire to access land for hydraulic fracturing, is “an unconstitutional and ultra vires exercise of a power committed to Congress and not delegated to the Executive Branch.” The complaints were amended to include the declarations of numerous residents affected by the reduction of the monuments (The Wilderness Society, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2587, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2591, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
EL PASO, Texas — An energy company on Nov. 26 filed a brief in Texas appeals court contending that the court should rule that a hydraulic fracturing company’s production units cannot exceed 160 acres each because the fracking company’s claim to leases that have terminated is a violation of the state of Texas’ approach to contract construction (MRC Permian Company v. Point Energy Partners Permian LLC, et al., No. 08-19-00124, Texas. App., 8th Dist., El Paso).