LANSING, Mich. — A group that opposes hydraulic fracturing and wants to get a referendum on the ballot filed a lawsuit in Michigan court on July 6, seeking a declaration that a state law is unconstitutional as it is applied to statutory initiative petitions under the state constitution, and it wants a permanent injunction requiring a state agency to canvass the group’s petition without exclusion of petition signatures (Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan v. Board of State Canvassers, No. 20-125MM, Mich. Clms.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on July 6 shut down the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), saying the “significant disruption” the shutdown will cause is outweighed by the “seriousness” of the federal government’s lack of response to Indian tribes’ concerns about the pipeline’s location and operation, so “the flow of oil must cease” (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 16-1534, D. D.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117866).
RICHMOND, Va. — Despite a victory at the U.S. Supreme Court last month in which a divided panel ruled that construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) could proceed, the two companies building the pipeline made a joint announcement on July 5 that they were ceasing construction due to “ongoing delays and increasing cost uncertainty which threaten the economic viability of the project.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on July 6 ruled that a district court’s order granting partial vacatur and an injunction is stayed except as it applies to the Keystone XL pipeline, pending an appeal in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals brought by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding its alleged failure to perform “a full and proper analysis” of the environmental impact caused by construction of the pipeline (Army Corps of Engineers, et al. v. N. Plains Res. Council, et al., No. 19A1053, U.S. Sup.).
ALBANY, N.Y. — A divided New York Court of Appeals on June 25 reversed a lower court and ruled that a company right to seize property by eminent domain to build a pipeline was not conditioned on obtaining a certificate ensuring water quality pursuant to federal law protecting groundwater (In the Matter of National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation v. Joseph A. Schueckler, et al., No. 29, N.Y. App.).
HOUSTON — Hydraulic fracturing operator Chesapeake Energy Corp. on June 28 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal bankruptcy court in Texas, citing “an overleveraged balance sheet,” as well as a recent price drop connected to the new coronavirus pandemic and a price war between Russia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as reasons (In re: Chesapeake Energy Corporation, No. 20-33233, S.D. Texas Bkcy.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — Hydraulic fracturing companies sued financial services providers in the Delaware Chancery Court on June 9, contending that they violated their fiduciary and contractual duties and numerous state laws governing trade secrets when they commingled funds and engaged in transactions outside the scope of the agreement they had entered (Lone Pine Resources LP, et al. v. William S. Dickey, et al., No. 2020-0450, Del. Chanc.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A hydraulic fracturing pipeline company on June 9 filed a reply brief in the U.S. Supreme Court contending that the state of New Jersey is wrong when it argues that “none of the traditional criteria support certiorari” in the company’s appeal of a federal appellate court’s ruling that held that the company did not have the authority to exercise the federal government’s power of eminent domain to secure rights of way for construction of a pipeline (PennEast Pipeline Company LLC v. New Jersey, et al., No. 19A836, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 29 invited the U.S. solicitor general to file a brief in a case brought by a hydraulic fracturing pipeline company against the state of New Jersey as the high court considers granting certiorari and hearing the company’s petition to reverse a lower court’s ruling that determined that the company did not have the authority to exercise the federal government’s power of eminent domain to secure rights of way for the pipeline’s construction (PennEast Pipeline Company LLC v. New Jersey, et al., No. 19A836, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK — A shareholder sued an oil and natural gas exploration company, its CEO and members of its board of directors in New York federal court on June 19, alleging that the defendants omitted key information in a registration statement for a proposed merger deal that would see the company acquired by another hydraulic fracturing company in violation of federal securities laws (Matthew Wilking v. Quintana Energy Services Inc., No. 20-4726, S.D. N.Y.).
DALLAS — A company that sells drill bits for use in hydraulic fracturing operations on June 17 sued the manufacturer of those bits, alleging breach of an exclusive contract between the two companies on grounds that the manufacturer “directed, encouraged, or otherwise incentivized” other dealers to market and sell the equipment at issue (C&H Tool & Machine Inc. v. Varel International Ind. LP, No. 20-1607, N.D. Texas).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A panel of the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 16 vacated a district court judgment and held that that court erred when it ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had improperly suspended and then canceled a hydraulic fracturing mineral lease in Montana (Solenex LLC v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-5345, and Solenex LLC v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-5343 [consolidated], D.C. Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The state of California on June 12 filed a notice of appeal in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals seeking to reverse a district court’s dismissal of its case against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for alleged violation of federal law related to the agency’s repeal of the methane waste prevention rule passed by the Obama administration (California v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 20-16157, 9th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A divided U.S. Supreme Court on June 15 reversed and remanded a ruling by the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and held that because the U.S. Department of the Interior’s decision to assign responsibility for the Appalachian Trail to the National Park Service (NPS) did not transform the land over which the trail passes into land within the National Park system, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) had the authority to issue a permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will carry hydraulically fractured gas across park lands (Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et al., No. 18-1587, U.S. Forest Service, et al. v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et al., No. 18-1584, U.S. Sup. [consolidated]).
SAN FRANCISCO — An attorney for the Trump administration on June 5 told a panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that it should reverse a ruling about leasing offshore areas for oil and gas exploration because in that decision, the district court “misconstrued” a section of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) and wrongly vacated a large portion of an executive order issued by President Donald J. Trump. Attorneys representing conservationists argued that they have standing and contended that their case has merit (League of Conservation Voters, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., Nos. 19-35460, 19-35461 and 19-35462, 9th Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA — A drilling company on May 19 filed a brief in the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that a district court erred in its jury instructions and that the verdict in favor of a hydraulic fracturing company pertaining to a contract dispute should be reversed because “there was no basis” for the verdict that was handed down (Orion Drilling Company LLC v. EQT Production Company, No. 19-3007, 3rd Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A stipulated judgment of noninfringement by a patent owner will stand, after the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 18 upheld a Texas federal judge’s construction of various disputed terms in four patents (SandBox Logistics LLC, et al. v. Proppant Express Investments LLC, et al., No. 19-1684, Fed. Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 15879).
HOUSTON — A group of affiliated companies that make fluid control devices for the hydraulic fracturing industry on May 27 sued a company that sells those same pieces of equipment, alleging that it violated federal law when it engaged in “inequitable conduct” to obtain a patent for something that was the property of the plaintiff (Vulcan Industrial Holdings LLC, et al. v. Kerr Machine Co., et al., No. 20-1852, S.D. Texas).
HOUSTON — A drilling company that provides services to hydraulic fracturing operators on June 3 sued a former consultant, alleging that he misappropriated trade secrets to which he had access during the time was under contract with the company and later infringed patents for products and procedures by registering those patents in his own name (Abaco Drilling Technologies LLC v. PV Fluid Products Inc., et al., No. 20-1946, S.D. Texas).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The state of New Jersey filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on June 2 contending that “none of the traditional criteria support certiorari” sought by a pipeline company that wants to reverse a lower court’s ruling that determined that the company did not have the authority to exercise the federal government’s power of eminent domain to secure rights of way for the construction of an interstate pipeline that would carry hydraulically fractured gas (PennEast Pipeline Company LLC v. New Jersey, et al., No. 19A836, U.S. Sup.).