HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Senate is considering a bill that would designate the decision to ban hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin (DRB) as an act of eminent domain that entitles landowners in the basin to "appropriate and just compensation" for their lost opportunity to lease their land for drilling.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a May 4 holding, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed findings by a North Dakota federal judge that a hydraulic fracturing patent is unenforceable due to an inventor's inequitable conduct before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) (Energy Heating LLC, et al. v. Heat-On-The-Fly LLC, et al., Nos. 2016-1559, -1893, -1894, Fed. Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS - The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and two other environmental advocacy groups on Feb. 13 filed a petition in the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that the Circuit Court should review an Environmental Protection Agency permit that allows oil companies to discharge toxins into the Gulf of Mexico, which the CBD argues puts coastal communities at risk (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. N/A, 5th Cir.).
AMHERST, Mass. - Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Missouri-Columbia on Feb. 7 released a hydraulic fracturing study that suggests that the mammary gland in female mice is sensitive to mixtures of chemicals used in fracking at exposure levels that are "environmentally relevant." The researchers conclude that "the impact of these findings on the long-term health of the mammary gland, including its lactational capacity and its risk of cancer, should be evaluated in future studies."
PITTSBURGH - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Feb. 1 denied a well services company's motion to dismiss a breach of contract lawsuit against it related to groundwater contamination that the company allegedly caused by failing to perform services properly on a hydraulic fracturing well site (EQT Production Company v. Terra Services LLC, No. 14-01053, W.D. Pa.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Hydraulic fracturing trade groups filed a brief in California federal court on Jan. 16 arguing that decision by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to amend the compliance deadlines for what is known as the methane waste prevention rule was valid. The groups oppose the motion for preliminary injunction sought by environmental advocacy groups on grounds that it is "an extraordinary remedy" (Sierra Club, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 17-7187, N.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A study published in the journal "Science Advances" on Dec. 13 concludes that there is evidence that there are negative effects of in utero exposure to hydraulic fracturing sites when they are located within 1.86 miles of a mother's residence based on the detection of nonmethane hydrocarbons, which cause personal injury - especially to fetuses.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Hydraulic fracturing companies on Nov. 16 filed a brief in Arkansas federal court contending that residents who have sued them alleging property damage as a result of the companies' disposal of fracking waste "consistently take liberty with the facts to add more baseless sanctions noise to this case" (Bobbie Hill, et al. v. Southwestern Energy Co., No. 12-500, E.D. Ark.).
PITTSBURGH - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Nov. 7 extended the deadline for discovery in a hydraulic fracturing contract dispute following a previous ruling in which the judge denied a motion for protective order and a motion to quash that had been filed by a fracking company that sought to prevent inspection of fracking rigs at issue in the litigation (Orion Drilling Company LLC v. EQT Production Company, No. 16-01516, W.D. Pa.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A group of leaseholders in Ohio who contend that hydraulic fracturing companies "systematically" violated their leases and underpaid royalties, filed a brief in Ohio federal court on Nov. 3, contending that the defendants' motion seeking leave to file a sur-reply in opposition to their motion for class certification should be denied (Zehentbauer Family Land LP v. Chesapeake Exploration LLC, et al., No. 15-02449, N.D. Ohio).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A federal judge in Oklahoma on Oct. 25 ruled that a petroleum engineer cannot proffer expert testimony as to whether a fracking services company was negligent when completing the construction of a disputed oil well but that he can testify regarding the standard of care and whether the standard of care was breached (Singer Oil Company LLC v. Newfield Exploration Midcontinent Inc., et al., CIV-16-768, W.D. Okla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176426).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A hydraulic fracturing company on Oct. 9 filed a brief in an Oklahoma federal court arguing that the company that made a lithium battery pack that exploded on a fracking rig and injured a worker has a direct duty under Oklahoma law to indemnify the fracking operator because the explosion was caused by an allegedly defective design (Jacob McGehee, et al. v. Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation, et al. and Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation v. Engineered Power LP, et al., No. 15-145, W.D. Okla.).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A company that is the third-party defendant in a lawsuit brought by a man who alleges that he suffered chemical injuries from a lithium battery pack that exploded on a hydraulic fracturing rig filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court on Sept. 13, contending that the fracking company's motion for summary judgment should be denied because "at the very least" an issue of fact remains regarding whether the fracking company's design changes to the battery pack were a proximate cause of the explosion at issue (Jacob McGehee, et al. v. Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation, et al. and Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation v. Engineered Power LP, et al., No. 15-145, W.D. Okla.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and hydraulic fracturing company Range Resources - Appalachia LLC on Aug. 28 reached a settlement in a lawsuit the agency brought pertaining to a methane leak at one of the company's sites in 2011 that contaminated local water wells. Details of the agreement were not disclosed (Range Resources - Appalachia LLC v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, No. 2015-077-R, Pa. EHB).
ST. LOUIS - A federal court wrongly excluded an expert witness for an Arkansas couple accusing a hydraulic fracturing company of trespass and improperly awarded summary judgment to the company based on the couple's lack of sufficient evidence, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held May 22 in reversing and remanding (Robbie Hill, et al. v. Southwestern Energy Company, et al., No. 15-3458, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8862).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A company sued in connection with injuries suffered by two workers when a lithium battery exploded during a hydraulic fracturing operation filed an additional brief in Oklahoma federal court on May 5 contending that the plaintiffs cannot designate the company's CEO as a specific witness under federal procedural rules (Jacob McGehee, et al. v. Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation, et al. and Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation v. Engineered Power LP, et al., No. 15-145, W.D. Okla.).
DENVER - An oil and gas company that is a class representative in a royalty dispute with a hydraulic fracturing company on April 3 moved in Colorado federal court for permission to file a restricted revised response in opposition to the fracking company's motion for summary judgment to protect confidential business information (Phelps Oil And Gas LLC v. Noble Energy Inc., No. 14-2604, D. Colo.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal magistrate judge in Pennsylvania on March 31 vacated a $4.24 million verdict handed down in favor of a group of residents against a hydraulic fracturing company they had accused of contaminating their groundwater. The judge ordered that a new trial be held if the parties are unable to reach a mutual settlement on the remaining claims in the lawsuit (Nolen Scott Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, No. 09-2284, M.D. Pa.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49075).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A hydraulic fracturing company filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court on Jan. 25, arguing that a company that purchases royalties and mineral rights is attempting to get "two bites at the apple" on its claim that the fracking company has underpaid royalties to a group of mineral rights owners (Chieftain Royalty Company v. SM Energy Company, et al., No. 11-177, W.D. Okla.).
STILLWATER, Okla. - A group of Oklahoma residents on Dec. 5 filed a putative class action lawsuit in state court against five energy companies contending that by disposing of fracking wastewater into the ground, the companies introduced contaminants into the natural environment that caused an adverse change to it in the form of unnatural seismic activity (David and Myra Reid, et al. v. White Star Petroleum LLC, et al., No. CJ-2016-543, Okla. Dist., Payne Co.).
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Sept. 7 denied an insured's motion to dismiss an insurer's suit seeking a coverage declaration for underlying suits arising out of the insured's fracking operations because the policy at issue includes a forum selection clause designating New York as the forum to litigate any disputes (Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, London v. New Dominion LLC, No. 16-5005, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121133).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal jury in Pennsylvania on March 10 awarded $4.24 million to residents who contended that a hydraulic fracturing company is liable for contaminating their groundwater (Nolen Scott Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, No. 09-2284, M.D. Pa.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A magistrate judge assigned to a dispute between residents and an oil and gas company that they contend has contaminated groundwater as a result of hydraulic fracturing operations on Feb. 12 granted the company's motion to exclude plaintiffs' exhibits at trial on grounds that they pertain to water tests that were performed just a month before trial without notice being given to the company (Nolen Scott Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, No. 09-2284, M.D. Pa.).