SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Government on April 8 filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that it should remand for dismissal as moot a lawsuit brought by Native American tribes who contend that the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline would threaten their land and water because it would transport hydraulically fractured oil (Indigenous Environmental Network, et al. v. U.S. Department of State, et al., No. 18-36068, 9th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration on April 17 filed a brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, contending that President Donald J. Trump had authority under the Antiquities Act to reduce the size of two national monuments because the plain language of the act is “consistent with presidential modification authority” (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.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A pipeline company on April 17 filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that a petition filed by landowners who contend that district courts are not empowered to enter preliminary injunctions giving private companies immediate possession of land before final judgment in condemnation proceedings under the Natural Gas Act (NGA) “has no merit” (Lynda Like, et al. v. Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company LLC, No. 18-1206, U.S. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 17 reversed a federal court’s finding that a site pollution legal liability insurer waived its subrogation rights under an onshore master services agreement (MSA) but affirmed the court’s dismissal of the breach of contract claim against the insurer for lack of personal jurisdiction (Halliburton Energy Services Inc. v. Ironshore Specialty Insurance Co., No. 17-20678 consolidated with No. 18-20239, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 11255).
HOUSTON — A provider of oil and gas services on April 2 accuses a competitor of patent infringement in a new complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Schlumberger Technology Corporation v. EnerPol LLC, No. 19-1196, E.D. Texas).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Native American tribe filed an amicus curiae brief in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 5 arguing that a lower court’s decision, which held that the federal government’s cancellation of a hydraulic fracturing lease was “arbitrary and capricious,” was incorrect. The Trump administration also filed a brief contending that the lower court’s decision should be reversed (Solenex LLC v. David Bernhardt, et al. No. 18-5345, D.C. Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of law professors on March 27 filed a revised amicus curiae brief in the District of Columbia District Court contending that the President Donald J. Trump’s decision to reduce the size of national monuments, which would allow access to land for hydraulic fracturing, was not authorized by the Antiquities Act (Hopi Tribe, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2590; Utah Diné Bikéyah, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2605; and Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2606, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
DENVER — A federal judge in Colorado on March 27 ruled that the Trump administration “acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner and violated” federal law by not taking a hard look at the foreseeable indirect effects resulting from the combustion of oil and gas related to hydraulic fracturing well permits on federal land. The judge ordered the government and environmental groups to “confer and attempt in good faith to reach an agreement as to remedies” (Citizens for a Healthy Community v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, No. 17-2519, D. Colo., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51722).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A landowner family filed a brief in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on April 3 contending that it should affirm a lower court’s ruling and not expand the rule of capture pertaining to natural gas located under the family’s property, as desired by a hydraulic fracturing company, because those minerals belong to the family in keeping with “the centuries old concepts of property ownership” (Adam Briggs, et al. v. Southwestern Energy Production Company, No. 63MAP, 2018, Pa. Sup.).
HOUSTON — A group of shareholders on April 1 moved in Texas federal court to consolidate their class action against a hydraulic fracturing company with another case, contending that the actions present “virtually identical factual and legal issues” regarding allegations of securities fraud pertaining to a company acquisition (FNY Partners Fund LP, et al. v. Alta Mesa Resources Inc., et al., No. 19-1027, S.D. Texas).
PITTSBURGH — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on March 31 awarded the attorneys for a hydraulic fracturing company fees totaling $102,979.18 rather than an amount more than six times as much, in a local fracking ordinance dispute in which the company voluntarily reduced its award request because it said it “did not wish to bankrupt” the local municipality involved in the lawsuit (Pennsylvania General Energy Company LLC v. Grant Township, No. 14-209, W.D. Pa.).
FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A federal judge in Alaska on March 29 ruled that an executive order issued by President Donald J. Trump that opened areas of the Outer Continental Shelf off the coast of Alaska for oil and gas drilling is “unlawful” because it exceeded the president’s authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) (League of Conservation Voters, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-101, D. Alaska).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A pipeline company on March 27 filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court contending that it should deny a petition filed by environmental groups who claim that a lower court erred when it held that federal law preempted the review process for the construction of a pipeline that would carry hydraulically fractured gas through several counties in Pennsylvania. The pipeline company argues that the groups’ petition has “no merit” (Delaware Riverkeeper Network, et al. v. Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, et al., No. 18-1106, U.S. Sup.).
BRIGHTON, Colo. — The Board of Commissioners in Adams County, Colo., on March 20 unanimously approved a moratorium on new hydraulic fracturing facilities in the county while the state Senate considers legislation that “enhances local governments' ability to protect public health, safety, and welfare and the environment by clarifying, reinforcing, and establishing their regulatory authority over the surface impacts of oil and gas development.”
MUSKOGEE, Okla. — A federal judge in Oklahoma on March 21 issued three separate opinions in one case pertaining to hydraulic fracturing lease disputes with three different groups of leaseholders. In two of the opinions, the judge denied fracking companies’ motions to dismiss; in the third, the judge dismissed the leaseholders’ claim (Dorsey J. Reirdon v. Cimarex Energy Company, et al., No. 16-445, E.D Okla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46984).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on March 19 ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to take a “hard look” at the impact its approval of hydraulic fracturing drilling leases would have on climate change and enjoined the agency from authorizing more drilling in Wyoming while the BLM satisfies its obligations under federal law (WildEarth Guardians, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, No. 16-1724, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44995).
SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon House of Representatives on March 18 voted 42-12 to pass a bill that bans hydraulic fracturing in the state for until 2030.
SAN ANTONIO — An appellate panel in Texas on March 13 affirmed in part and reversed in part a lower court’s ruling and determined that under disputed hydraulic fracturing leases, compensatory royalty is calculated by the royalty share of gross proceeds of production from the entirety of an adjacent well (Stanton P. Bell, et al. v. Chesapeake Energy Corporation, et al., No. 04-18-00129, Texas App., 4th Dist., 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 1978).
FORT WORTH, Texas — A federal bankruptcy judge in Texas on March 11 ruled that a trustee could not recover what she claimed was a fraudulent transfer from a debtor to a couple that had invested in his hydraulic fracturing water treatment company because the trustee failed to show the existence of a genuine dispute with respect to the debtor’s actual intent to hinder or delay any entity to which he was indebted (Marilyn Garner v. Richard Sherwood, et al. [In re: Gregory G. Jones], No. 16-41283, Adv. No. 18-04098, Chapter 7, N.D. Texas Bkcy., 2019 Bankr. LEXIS 795).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania appellate panel on March 5 affirmed a decision by a state property board and ruled that a landowner did not retain the rights to minerals under a parcel of land she had transferred to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (Sarah O’Layer McCready v. Department of Community and Economic Development, No. 778 CD 2018, Pa. Cmwlth., 2019 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 210).