SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on July 17 denied a motion to transfer to Wyoming two consolidated cases challenging the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) repeal of the hydraulic fracturing methane rule, but allowed fracking industry groups to intervene, concluding that even though the lawsuits could have been filed in Wyoming, the balance of the transfer factors weighs against moving the cases there (Sierra Club, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 18-524, California v. United States Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 18-521, N.D. Calif.).
LOS ANGELES — A panel of the California Court of Appeal for the Second District on July 17 reversed and remanded an oil and gas royalties dispute, finding that the trial court’s interpretation of a phrase in an agreement between the parties that limited the use of royalty money for public projects was “too narrow” (Prop “A” Protective Association v. Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority, Nos. B272381, B281923, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 1; 2018 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4826).
SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico’s Public Lands Commissioner on June 21 asked a state court to issue an alternative writ of mandamus requiring the state engineer to explain why he is issuing multiple permits for the temporary use of underground public waters for oil and gas fracking (State of New Mexico, ex rel. Aubrey Dunn, et al. v. Tom Blaine, et al., No. D-101-CV-2018-01830, N.M. Dist., Santa Fe Co.).
BOISE, Idaho — Environmental groups that have sued the Trump administration 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” filed a brief in Idaho federal court on July 6 contending that a hydraulic fracturing industry group should not be allowed to intervene in the case (Western Watersheds Project, et al. v. Ryan K. Zinke, et al., No. 18-187, D. Idaho).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A landowner couple on June 30 moved in New York federal court to vacate the court’s ruling that granted summary judgment to the state of New York and its agencies on the couple’s claim that a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing violates the U.S. Constitution by preventing the couple from extracting their natural resources on their property (David R. Morabito, et al. v. New York, et al., No. 17-6853, W.D. N.Y.).
SAN ANTONIO — A federal judge in Texas on June 28 ruled that an underlying judgment in a hydraulic fracturing case was not binding and admissible in a coverage dispute between a fracking company and the insurer that held its commercial general liability (CGL) policy (CBX Resources LLC v. Ace American Insurance Company, et al., No. 17-17, W.D. Texas, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110915).
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — A federal judge in West Virginia on July 5 denied a landowner couple’s motion for summary judgment on its breach of contract claim against a hydraulic fracturing company related to royalty interests, concluding that the couple did not establish whether the pricing formula in the contract provides for a fair market price at the relevant valuation point (Arnold K. Richards, et al. v. EQT Production Company, No. 17-50, N.D. W.Va.; 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111821).
DENVER — An environmental group on June 13 filed a cross-motion in Colorado federal court seeking summary judgment against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for allegedly failing to meet the evidentiary burdens of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with regard to the group’s requests for documents pertaining to compliance with federal laws during an oil and gas lease sale for hydraulic fracturing in March 2017 (Rocky Mountain Wild Inc. v. United States Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 17-636, D. Colo.).
CINCINNATI — A panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 26 affirmed a lower court’s ruling that dismissed a claim brought under the False Claims Act (FCA) related to a dispute over hydraulic fracturing leases, concluding that the plaintiffs failed a second time to adequately plead that the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) was aware that the leases violated an obligation to the United States (United States, ex rel. Leatra Harper, et al. v. Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, No. 17-4098, 6th Cir.; 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 17387).
HOUSTON — A federal judge in Texas on June 19 ruled that investor plaintiffs who brought a securities class action against a hydraulic fracturing company for alleged misstatements regarding its safety protocols had sufficiently pleaded their case that the company’s statement of safety compliance constituted “an actionable misstatement” that “a reasonable investor would consider important in making an investment decision” (Robert Edgar v. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., et al., No. 17-1372, S.D. Texas).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on July 2 proposed increasing the fee for hydraulic fracturing permits by more than 100 percent, which the DEP says is necessary to address the disparity between the income generated by well permit application fees and the cost of administering state law relating to the development of oil and gas resources.
PHILADELPHIA — A panel of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 3 vacated and remanded a case brought by a hydraulic fracturing company against the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), ruling that a compact that governs fracking in the basin is “ambiguous” as to whether the company’s proposed activity in the basin is subject to the review authority of the DRBC (Wayne Land and Mineral Group LLC v. Delaware River Basin Commission, No. 17-1800, 3rd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 18132).
PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on June 22 ruled that a trade secret dispute pertaining to technology used in hydraulic fracturing operations belongs in arbitration due to the wording of a master service agreement signed by the parties (H2O Resources LLC v. Oilfield Tracking Services LLC, No. 187-1164, E.D. Pa.; 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104991).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The journal Science on June 25 published an article authored by researchers from 13 universities, joined by others from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and environmental groups, which concludes that methane emissions across the supply chain of the oil and gas industry in the United States “results in roughly the same radiative forcing” as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over a 20-year time period.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation on June 20 filed a lawsuit in District of Columbia federal court against the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke seeking declaratory relief from the “unlawful decision” by the DOI that invalidated a stay issued by another federal agency with regard to hydraulic fracturing permits (Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Nation v. The United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-1462, D. D.C.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on June 19 in which it concluded that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) could improve oversight of hydraulic fracturing lease suspensions with better data and monitoring procedures.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Superior Court on June 8 denied a motion for rehearing en banc sought by a hydraulic fracturing company that argued that a Superior Court panel “misapprehended material facts” when it determined that the rule of capture does not preclude a fracking company from liability for trespass where subsurface fractures, fracturing fluid and proppant cross boundary lines and extend into the subsurface estate of an adjoining property for which the operator does not have a mineral lease (Adam Briggs, et al. v. Southwestern Energy Production Company, No. 1351MDA2017, Pa. Super., 2018 Pa. Super. LEXIS 632).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Senate is considering a bill that would designate the decision to ban hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin (DRB) as an act of eminent domain that entitles landowners in the basin to “appropriate and just compensation” for their lost opportunity to lease their land for drilling.
TULSA, Okla. — The Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma on May 17 sued two hydraulic fracturing companies in Oklahoma federal court, contending that they disposed of wastewater and introduced contaminants into the natural environment that caused “unnatural seismic activity” (Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma v. Eagle Road Oil LLC, et al., No. 18-263, N.D. Okla.).
CLEVELAND — An individual shareholder in a company that produces proppants for hydraulic fracturing operations, which is planning to merge with another proppant producer, on May 18 filed a brief in Ohio federal court seeking an order enjoining the shareholder vote until the companies disclose information that he claims was omitted from documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (Melvyn Klein v. Fairmount Santrol Holdings Inc., et al., No. 18-1186, N.D. Ohio).