SAN FRANCISCO — The Trump administration on Oct. 19 filed a letter of supplemental authority in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, contending that pursuant to a ruling in a separate case pending in federal court in South Carolina, conservation groups that oppose offshore hydraulic fracturing in the Arctic do not have standing (League of Conservation Voters, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., Nos. 19-35460, 19-35461 and 19-35462, 9th Cir.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) on Oct. 14 filed a brief in Ohio Supreme Court contending that it should accept an appeal brought by a municipality regarding hydraulic fracturing rights on land that is the subject of a deed transfer that carries certain restrictions but wait to hear the case until the Supreme Court issues a ruling in two other pending cases that will affect the case at hand (Ohio Public Works Commission v. Barnesville, et al., No. 2020-1129, Ohio Sup.).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A Montana federal judge on Oct. 16 ruled that resource management plans (RMPs) approved by William Perry Pendley, the acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), are “unlawful and should be set aside” (Steve Bullock, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 20-62, D. Mont.).
PHILADELPHIA — The Clean Air Council (CAC) on Oct. 6 sent a notice of intent to sue to Sunoco Pipeline LP, the company responsible for building the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Chester County, Pa., on grounds that it is in violation of state law through an “apparent pattern and practice of repeatedly falsifying or otherwise providing inaccurate data” to state environmental regulators.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A hydraulic fracturing sand company on Oct. 1 filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court contending that the Minnesota Supreme Court erred when it held that a mineral estate does not qualify as “property” under the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution unless and until the owner has obtained all government permits needed to use the estate (Minnesota Sands LLC v. County of Winona, Minnesota, No. 20-441, U.S. Sup.).
HOUSTON — A federal judge in Texas on Oct. 7 approved a shareholder’s voluntary dismissal of his securities fraud lawsuit against a hydraulic fracturing operator after none of the defendants filed an answer to the complaint or moved for summary judgment (John Gordon Windler v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, et al., No. 20-2827, S.D. Texas).
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A federal judge in Wyoming on Oct. 8 vacated the 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule that requires oil and gas producers to use currently available technologies and processes to cut flaring in half at oil wells on public and tribal lands in an effort to reduce methane pollution on grounds that it is “arbitrary and capricious” (Wyoming, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 16-285, D. Wyo.).
PHILADELPHIA — A drilling company on Sept. 11 filed a petition in the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals seeking rehearing of its ruling in a hydraulic fracturing breach of contract case, contending that the panel wrongly determined that the contracts at issue contained provisions that served as the basis for finding that a district court’s material breach instruction was not erroneous (Orion Drilling Company LLC v. EQT Production Company, No. 19-3307, 3rd Cir.).
BOISE, Idaho — Environmental groups on Sept. 14 filed a brief in Idaho federal court contending that their claims that the U.S. secretary of the Interior violated federal law when he and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved the sale of hydraulic fracturing leases across what is referred to as the Interior West are not precluded (Western Watersheds Project, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-187, D. Idaho).
AUSTIN, Texas — The trustee and the debtor-in-possession for bankrupt hydraulic fracturing company Primera Energy LLC on Aug. 14 filed a petition with the Texas Supreme Court seeking review of a lower court’s ruling, which the trustee argues “effectively eliminates” the safeguards provided in Texas Rules of Civil Procedure that protect a litigant’s right to be heard on the merits before a judgment is entered (Jason Searcy v. R.W. Dirks Petroleum Engineer Inc., No. 20-0632, Texas Sup.).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the governor of Montana on Oct. 5 filed competing briefs in Montana federal court dealing with the ongoing dispute between the parties over whether the BLM's acting director has "unlawfully" directed the BLM via a series of "temporary" orders that he lacks the legal authority to issue and that harm the state (Steve Bullock, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 20-62, D. Mont.).
CHARLESTON, S.C. — A federal judge in South Carolina on Oct. 6 ruled that a lawsuit brought by conservation groups opposing the federal government's plan to conduct seismic testing along the Continental Shelf in the Atlantic Ocean to explore the possibility of offshore hydraulic fracturing is "moot" because of an executive order issued by President Donald J. Trump that withdrew certain regions of the Continental Shelf from oil leasing (South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, et al. v. Wilbur Ross, No. 18-3326, D. S.C.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The state of California, along with other states and municipalities, on Oct. 5 filed a brief in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not provided reasoned explanations for its decision to rescind the 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule that pertains to pollution caused by the flaring of methane during oil and gas operations and that without the rule "irreparable harm" will be caused (State of California, et al. v. Andrew Wheeler, No. 20-1357, Environmental Defense Fund, et al. v. Andrew Wheeler, et al., No. 20-1359, [consolidated] D.C. Cir.).
LAKE CHARLES, La. — A Louisiana federal judge on Sept. 22 dismissed a mineral rights and property damage lawsuit against an oil and gas exploration company, concluding that the plaintiff did not establish that fraud had been committed and that the conduct alleged did not constitute a continuing tort (Prairie Land Company v. ConocoPhillips Company, No. 20-748, W.D. La., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174128).
HOUSTON — The chief financial officer of a hydraulic fracturing services company on Sept. 22 filed a declaration in a Texas bankruptcy court saying that a "price war" between Saudi Arabia and Russia combined with economic complications from the novel coronavirus caused "extreme volatility" in energy markets and drove it into Chapter 11 bankruptcy (In re: FTS International Inc., No. 20-34622, S.D. Texas Bkcy.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 5 refused to hear a case brought by a New York couple who contended that the state of New York's ban on hydraulic fracturing is a violation of their constitutional rights (David R. Morabito, et ux. v. New York, No. 19-1319, U.S. Sup.).
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A hydraulic fracturing company on Sept. 25 filed an answer in Arkansas federal court saying oil and gas royalty owners who contend that the company has engaged in a scheme to underpay their royalties have failed to plead their claims with specificity (Darrell Oliger, et al. v. Flywheel Energy Production LLC, No. 20-1146, E.D. Ark.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hydraulic fracturing industry groups on Sept. 28 filed a brief in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals opposing a motion for emergency stay of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision to rescind the 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule that pertains to pollution caused by the flaring of methane during oil and gas operations, arguing that the stay is "unwarranted" because environmental groups will not suffer irreparable harm during the pendency of the litigation (State of California, et al. v. Andrew Wheeler, No. 20-1357, Environmental Defense Fund, et al. v. Andrew Wheeler, et al., No. 20-1359, [consolidated] D.C. Cir.).
PITTSBURGH — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Sept. 25 dismissed a hydraulic fracturing contract dispute between an energy company and a drilling company, ruling that the energy company failed to file its lawsuit in a timely manner even when it had reason to believe a claim existed concerning issues pertaining to completion of a particular well covered by the operating agreement (Bradford Energy Capital LLC, et al. v. SWEPI LP, et al., No. 17-1231, W.D. Pa., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176458).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a Sept. 28 order, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals refused to order a Texas federal judge to stay patent infringement litigation pending the outcome of a recently instituted inter partes review (IPR) of a patent used in the hydraulic fracturing industry (In re: Sand Revolution LLC, No. 20-145, Fed. Cir.).