Category Archives: Litigation

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Heartland vs. Northeast on Federal Regulation of Methane Emissions from Oil & Gas Operations

In a May 12th letter, thirteen state attorneys general warned the EPA not to negotiate with seven Northeastern states on the subject of potential federal regulation of methane emissions from oil and gas operations, including those employing hydraulic fracturing. The states argue in their letter that the threatened lawsuit is without merit, and that any … Continue Reading

Hydraulic Fracturing: State Regulatory Roundup Vol. 12

Fracking Insider Readers: We are pleased to bring you Volume 12 of our State Regulatory Roundup, including updates on Maryland, Colorado, Texas and a notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency, filed by multiple states. As we explained in earlier volumes, we designed the Roundup to provide quick overviews on state regulatory activity. … Continue Reading

New York District Court Bounces NEPA Challenge – For Now

A federal court in New York dismissed a challenge alleging a failure by the Delaware River Basin Commission (“DRBC” or “Commission”), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and others* to conduct National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) analysis for proposed regulations that would allow fracking in the basin.  This decision was rendered in three combined cases, … Continue Reading

CBD Serves Notice

On August 28, 2012, the Center for Biological Diversity (“CBD”) served an Endangered Species Act sixty-day notice on the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Secretaries of Commerce and Interior indicating its intent to sue.   The allegation?  “[F]ailing to reinitiate consultation regarding its oil and gas … Continue Reading

Trends In Natural Gas Torts

While many tort actions have been filed across the country alleging health, drinking water, and other damages from fracking operations – including earthquakes in Arkansas – there have been almost no decisions as yet in terms of liability.  The key issue in these cases is one of causation, both proximate and actual, and the burden … Continue Reading

The Sackett Decision and Its Implications for Hydraulic Fracturing

With stunning alacrity, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion [PDF] today in Sackett v. EPA (roughly two months since oral argument), resolutely and unanimously striking down EPA’s position that the Clean Water Act (CWA) does not provide pre-enforcement judicial review of compliance orders. This blog has covered the Sackett case and explored the potential … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Seeks To Bring Common Sense to Air Emissions Regulations for the Oil and Gas Industry

Events are unfolding rapidly in the regulatory arena for the natural gas and oil industry. Even though hydraulic fracturing has been used for decades, and is but one stage in the drilling process, the controversy over “fracking” has prompted swift and broad regulatory movement—both at the federal and state levels. Federal and state agencies are … Continue Reading

Is Shale Gas a “Mineral” – Why The Answer To This Question May Determine How and Where Drilling Happens in Pennsylvania

Bubbling up through the state courts in Pennsylvania is a legal dispute with huge implications for the ongoing natural gas boom in that state. Hanging in the balance is the validity of hundreds (if not thousands) of leases entered into by gas companies under the assumption that included in the lease rights is the ability … Continue Reading

Fracking – Key Legal Trends For Companies to Watch

As the pace of natural gas and oil drilling in unconventional plays increases, the industry continues to be faced with a broad suite of environmentally-related legal concerns. These include multiple regulatory initiatives both at the Federal and State levels (including EPA’s and DOE’s ongoing studies) and federal legislation (including the Breathe and Frac Acts). As … Continue Reading

Municipal Fracking Ban Ruled Unlawful

A West Virginia state judge ruled Friday that Morgantown’s municipal ban on fracking violates state law [PDF].  Morgantown, in enacting the ban, had argued that its home rule authority granted it the ability to stop drilling within its jurisdiction. In granting summary judgment to Northeast Energy, the court held that the comprehensive legislative and regulatory scheme … Continue Reading

Industry Faces Multi-Layered Complexities in Municipal Fracking Bans

Michele Gryga contributed to this post A seemingly well-organized grass roots environmental campaign is successfully pushing local municipalities to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Led by environmental organizations, like the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, most ordinance fracking bans are premised on the municipality’s home rule authority. Home rule refers to the authority a state legislature … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Case To Be Heard Next Term May Have Big Impacts For Fracking

The United States Supreme Court has accepted certiorari (cert) in a case that may have ramifications for the Agency’s ongoing initiative to use the Safe Drinking Water Act’s (SDWA) emergency authority to regulate fracking. The issue in Sackett v. EPA, which the Court agreed last week to hear next term, centers on whether the Sacketts—who … Continue Reading

Judge Temporarily Stays EPA’s Case Against Range Resources

Yesterday, Senior United States District Judge for the Northern District of Texas, Royal Ferguson, issued a sua sponte stay of EPA’s lawsuit against Range Resources, related to allegations of fracking contamination in the Fort Worth area of the Barnett shale.  The stay is in effect pending resolution of parallel proceedings before the 5th Circuit Court of … Continue Reading

Can Calm and Reason Prevail in the Fracking Debate?

Andrew Revkin, of the New York Times, has written a short, but very reasonable and worthwhile piece on the ongoing public debate/controversy/vitriol/rhetoric surrounding the shale-gas boom, and the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) (which as many do, and should, point out, is a process used to drill for natural gas and oil in certain geologic formations, … Continue Reading

Texas Railroad Commission Confirms Fracking Operations Not Responsible for Contamination

In a closely watched case of national importance, the Texas Railroad Commission (TRRC) today voted unanimously to finalize a prior order finding Range Resources not responsible for the contamination of private drinking wells near two of its hydraulic fracturing operations in the Barnett Shale. After holding a hearing and receiving evidence from Range Resources, TRRC found that … Continue Reading

Well-Known Plaintiff’s Firm Files Lawsuit Against Gas Exploration Company in Upstate New York

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) during natural gas extraction typically takes place thousands of feet below the subsurface. If a nearby residential well or drinking water supply is found to be contaminated, is that automatically due to the fracking activities? Alternatively, might it be due to other naturally occurring influences, such as the natural presence of methane … Continue Reading

The Texas Railroad Commission Finds EPA’s Claims Against Range Resources Without Merit

The Railroad Commission of Texas (Commission) has issued its much anticipated Proposal for Decision and Proposed Order following a hearing on EPA’s claims that Range Production Company’s fracking operations contaminated private drinking water wells in the Fort Worth, Texas area. The Commission concluded that any contamination was due to natural migration from the much closer … Continue Reading

Senator Inhofe Wades Into the Range Dispute

If there were any questions about the national importance of the Range case, which this blog has covered since December 2010, the questions have been answered. On February 14, 2011, Senator Inhofe, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) sent a letter to EPA’s Inspector General, requesting that he “obtain and … Continue Reading

EPA Witholds Evidence Alleging Fracking Contamination Against Range Resources

Despite having two months ago issued an Emergency Order under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) against Range Production Company accusing two of its fracking operations of contaminating private drinking water wells in the Fort Worth area, and subsequently filing suit to enforce that order, according to Range, EPA continues to withhold proof that Range … Continue Reading