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.).
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).