BOISE, Idaho — A federal magistrate judge in Idaho on Sept. 4 denied a motion filed by the federal government, hydraulic fracturing industry groups and the state of Wyoming, ruling that the challenges brought to federal fracking leases should not be severed and transferred to separate jurisdictions because it would be “inappropriate” (Western Watersheds Project, et al. v. Ryan K. Zinke, et al., No. 18-187, D. Idaho).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on Aug. 27 ruled that a construction company had sufficiently shown that it had a valid unjust enrichment claim against another contractor that did not pay for work performed on a hydraulic fracturing site (TEK Construction Services LLC v. Pioneer Pipe Inc., No. 16-664, S.D. Ohio, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144964).
BOISE, Idaho — A federal judge in Idaho on Aug. 13 denied a claim for money damages from landowners who contested an order from a state agency allowing a hydraulic fracturing company to engage in forced pooling of land for the sake of accessing mineral rights, but the judge ruled that the landowners could seek prospective declaratory and injunctive relief from the order that granted the fracking company permission to drill (Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability Inc., et al. v. Thomas M. Schultz, et al., No. 17-264, D. Idaho, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXI 137712).
CANTON, Ohio — An Ohio appellate panel on Aug. 13 remanded to the trial court a lease dispute between hydraulic fracturing companies and a landowner, ruling that the companies breached their agreement when they combined leasehold interests without getting the landowner’s written consent (American Energy – Utica LLC v. Ronald L. Fuller, No. 17-CA-000028, Ohio App., 5th Dist., Guernsey Co., 2018 Ohio 3250).
RICHMOND, Va. — Environmental groups on Aug. 16 filed a petition in the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals seeking review of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) order that issued certificates for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), which would carry natural gas produced by hydraulic fracturing to Virginia and North Carolina (Appalachian Voices, et al. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 18-1956, 4th Cir.).
CHICAGO — A panel of the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 10 ruled that a company that mines sand for use in hydraulic fracturing operations did not owe production royalty payments to a landowner based on the “clear language” of the mining and leasing agreement the parties signed (Pronschinske Trust v. Kaw Valley Companies Inc., et al., No. 17-2889, 7th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 22292).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a study published Aug. 15, researchers at Duke University found that water use for hydraulic fracturing in major shale gas and oil production regions increased as much as 770 percent per well from 2011 to 2016, and wastewater volumes increased up to 1440 percent within the first year of production, which implies that future fracking operations will require larger volumes of water and larger wastewater volumes will be produced, which has “serious implication for local communities.”
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania state court, sitting en banc, on Aug. 23 ruled that certain regulatory definitions regarding communities, school property and playgrounds in a Pennsylvania code as it pertains to hydraulic fracturing operations are “void and unenforceable” (The Marcellus Shale Coalition v. Department of Environmental Protection of Pennsylvania, et al., No. 573 MD 2016, Pa. Commwlth.).
DENVER — A panel of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 16 ordered a limited remand to a district court to clarify why the appeals court has jurisdiction over an appeal in which two men contend that they were injured when a lithium battery exploded on a hydraulic fracturing rig. The panel said a footnote in the district court’s ruling is “confusing” (Jacob McGehee, et al. v. Forest Oil Corp., et al., No. 17-6238, 10th Cir.).
OAKLAND, Calif. — A panel in California on Aug. 14 said an environmental group is not entitled to a writ of mandate forcing a state agency to close immediately underground injection control wells used in hydraulic fracturing, which are injecting waste fluids into aquifers (Center for Biological Diversity v. Department of Conservation, No. A149896, Calif. App., 1st Dist., Div. 5; 2018 Cal. App. LEXIS 715).
OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma federal judge on Aug. 13 dismissed a proposed class action complaint seeking to recover the cost of earthquake insurance premiums from a number of injection well operators after determining that the plaintiffs failed to state claims upon which relief could be granted (Matt Meier, et al. v. Chesapeake Operating LLC, et al., No. 17-703, W.D. Okla.).
EL PASO, Texas — A Texas appeals panel on Aug. 8 affirmed a lower court’s ruling and held that a landowner did not establish that a hydraulic fracturing company breached its contract when it chose not to purchase water used for fracking operations from the landowner despite a settlement agreement that existed between a previous fracking company and the landowner (Roddy Harrison v. Rosetta Resources Operating LP, No. 08-15-00318-CV, Texas. App., 8th Dist.).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A divided panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals on July 30 ruled that a local ordinance prohibiting all mining of industrial minerals including silica sand used from hydraulic fracturing does not violate the dormant commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution (Minnesota Sands LLC v County of Winona, Minnesota, No. A18-0090, Minn. App.; 2018 Minn. App. LEXIS 347).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A federal judge on Aug. 7 denied a motion to vacate an earlier ruling that granted the state of New York and its agencies summary judgment on a landowner 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.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Aug. 8 announced that it was preparing a supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) and a potential resource management plan (RMP) to analyze the impact of hydraulic fracturing on BLM-administered land in eight counties in California comprising 400,000 acres of land and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estate.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A company that markets land available for lease to the producers of sand for hydraulic fracturing operations on Aug. 8 sued a consulting company alleging breach of contract because that company allowed its principal to become the president of another company that provides fracking sand, establishing a conflict of interest that prevented the consulting company from negotiating business deals with other providers (Propst Properties LLC v. Westbrook Willow LLC, No. 60CV-17 -6345, Ark. Cir., Pulaski Co.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Aug. 3 granted a petition for allowance of appeal of a lower court’s ruling that held that a municipal zoning hearing board’s decision to pass an ordinance allowing hydraulic fracturing was valid because environmental advocacy groups that had opposed the ordinance did not show that the ordinance would harm the environment (Delaware Riverkeeper Network, et al. v. Middlesex Township Zoning Hearing Board v. R.E. Gas Development LLC, No. 270 WAL 2017, Pa. Sup.).
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.).