Babst Calland: Federal Judge Enjoins Hempfield Township, Pa., From Prohibiting Seismic Testing

Babst Calland: Federal Judge Enjoins Hempfield Township, Pa., From Prohibiting Seismic Testing

By Nicholas J. Habursky

On April 10, 2014, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction forcing Hempfield Township to permit ION Geophysical of Houston (ION) to perform seismic testing on the Township’s roads.  Hempfield Township argued that it does not specifically permit seismic testing and, that by restricting the seismic testing, it was protecting the rights of property owners who did not have an agreement with ION.  U.S. District Court Judge Maurice Cohill disagreed, finding that the Township was preempted by the Oil and Gas Act from prohibiting seismic testing and the Township’s refusal to negotiate an agreement with ION deprived ION of the ability to conduct seismic testing without the ability to appeal.  Judge Cohill ruled that the testing will not hurt the Township and that Hempfield would be likely to lose on the merits.

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