Barclay Nicholson (US)

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Trump tells US Interior to reconsider fracking rules

President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order with broad implications for the oil and gas industry. Among its provisions, the order requires the US Department of the Interior to reanalyze its fracking regulations. The executive order, entitled Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, announces a shift in American environmental policy. It establishes as paramount … Continue reading

PA DEP addresses possible link between local earthquakes and fracking

Pennsylvania’s environmental regulators last month addressed a potential link between a string of small local earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing in the Utica Shale. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released a report in February analyzing together four small-scale earthquakes, which occurred in April 2016 in Lawrence County, and fracking operations in the surrounding area. … Continue reading

PA Department of Environmental Protection’s negotiating power fracked

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) may see new challenges in negotiating settlements with purported violators of Pennsylvania’s Clean Stream Law.  A recent Pennsylvania appellate court ruled that ongoing penalties are impermissible for a single waterway leak from fracking activities under the state’s Clean Streams Law.  The Clean Stream Law punishes violators for pollution released … Continue reading

Oklahoma shuts down wastewater disposal wells after recent earthquake

For years, the oil and gas industry has been blamed for the increase in seismic activity in various areas of the United States. Previous posts on this blog have tracked the allegations that hydraulic fracturing operations have contributed to seismic activity. A recent earthquake over the weekend has again sparked a debate regarding the alleged … Continue reading

EPA Fracking Study Attacked

On August 11, 2016, EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) challenged EPA’s recent determination that hydraulic fracking mechanisms did not lead to “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”  In June 2015, EPA released its hydraulic fracking study, formally known as “Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and … Continue reading

The Bureau of Land Management appeals hydraulic fracturing decision

As discussed in a prior post, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl recently struck down the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) hydraulic fracturing rule. In the BLM’s hydraulic fracturing rule, the BLM imposed stricter rules on well casing, wastewater storage, and chemical disclosure. Judge Skavdahl held that the BLM lacked the authority to enact the rule. … Continue reading

Recent Hydraulic Fracturing Rule Invalidated

Last year, the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a rule heightening the requirements placed on hydraulic fracturing operations on federal and tribal land. Specifically, the BLM heightened the rules for well casing and wastewater storage and required the disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process. The BLM’s hydraulic fracturing rule was … Continue reading

Sierra Club files earthquake lawsuit and Oklahoma regulators issue disposal injection reduction plan

Sierra Club makes induced seismicity claims against energy companies in federal lawsuit under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Days after a 5.1 magnitude quake shook Oklahoma on February 13, 2016, a federal suit claiming induced seismicity was filed. Sierra Club v. Chesapeake Operating LLC, et al., No. CIV-16-134-F, (W.D. Okla. filed Feb. 16, 2016). The suit, … Continue reading

State funding triggers TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program

The TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program, under the auspices of the University of Texas, is getting going, fueled by $4.5 million allocated by the Texas Legislature, with two new hires and seismographic equipment soon to be deployed.  The new project manager for TexNet is Alex Savvaidis, who operated a similar program in Greece.  Peter Hennings, a former ConocoPhillips structural geologist, will … Continue reading

DOI proposes methane and waste reduction rule

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, proposed a rule developed by the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) that would limit the flaring, leaking and venting of natural gas on public and tribal lands.  The reported purpose of this proposed rule is to cut down on methane emissions and prevent waste of natural gas.  … Continue reading

Political controversy surrounds peer-review attack on EPA fracking study

On January 7, EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) released a 133-page draft report recommending EPA soften its “landmark” findings that hydraulic fracking does not lead to “widespread, systematic impacts on drinking water resources in the U.S.” This rebuttal comes on the tail of similar studies finding that hydraulic fracking does not contaminate drinking water. The … Continue reading

Oklahoma residents sue 12 energy companies over quakes

On January 11, 2015 Oklahoma residents from Edmond and Oklahoma City filed suit against twelve energy companies, alleging that the defendants caused or contributed to seismic activity, though no scientific evidence is cited. Felts, et al. v. Devon Energy, et al., No. CJ-2016-137 (Okla. Cnty. Dist. Ct. filed Jan. 11, 2016).  Plaintiffs assert negligence and strict … Continue reading

Quakes in Oklahoma and Canada highlight changing legal parameters for operators

Edmond, Oklahoma experienced a 4.3 magnitude quake December 29 amid a swarm of quakes the state experienced that day.  Chimneys and contents of shelves purportedly tumbled to the ground, and 4,400 individuals lost electricity.  The Oklahoma Corporation Commission continues to develop a response to the complex phenomenon, noting January 1 that “the initial review of … Continue reading

UK Task Force Approves Fracking

On December 15, 2015, in a two-page report, a group of experts coined the “UK Task Force” issued their “Final Conclusions and Recommendations,” approving the safety of further drilling and exploration for shale gas in the United Kingdom. Based on a year of research into the potential “positive and negative” impacts of shale exploration and drilling, … Continue reading

Earthquakes tracked by state authorities and public with new tech

Seismic activity last week near Dallas grabbed attention in the Twittersphere, despite its low magnitude, reflecting the increasing trend of earthquake monitoring through social media and new technologies.  The USGS, which tracks ground shaking through user-generated reports on its “Did You Feel It?” site, posted one of the seismic events last week within a mere … Continue reading

Florida house fracking bill passes second subcommittee

H.B. 191, a Florida bill that would facilitate fracking throughout Florida recently gained approval in the House Agricultural and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee. Since this is the second subcommittee it has passed, the bill is poised to be debated by the entire House in Florida’s upcoming January legislative session. So far, opposition from the bill has come from … Continue reading

Seismic activity in Oklahoma results in new injection volume plans for wells near Crescent and Cherokee

On Friday, November 20, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission issued volume reduction plans for areas near Crescent and Cherokee that experienced seismic activity last week.  These plans are the latest in a series of similar measures taken by the state to control injection volumes of produced water and wastewater in various areas. The Crescent area plan … Continue reading

Wall Street Journal assesses induced seismicity liability debate

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal added to the debate over induced seismicity with an online opinion piece entitled, “Should Oil Firms Be Held Liable in Earthquake Lawsuits?” Law professor Blake Watson at the University of Dayton took the position that oil and gas companies should be held strictly liable if underground fluid injection causes … Continue reading

Texas railroad commission rejects claims that injection wells cause seismic activity

Earlier this year, the Texas Railroad Commission (Commission) required that XTO Energy Inc. (XTO) and EnerVest Operating LLC (EnerVest) show cause as to why the two companies should be permitted to continue their drilling operations in the Barnett Shale. The Commission’s request was triggered by a Southern Methodist University study that suggested that the injection … Continue reading

Sierra Club threatens to sue oil companies over frackquakes

The Sierra Club is threatening to sue four oil companies over allegations that their wastewater disposal operations caused hundreds of earthquakes in Oklahoma. In their notice of intent to sue, published on November 2, the Sierra Club claims that the oil companies are violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a federal law that governs … Continue reading

USGS says frackquakes a “red herring”

U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough recently commented that the link between fracking and earthquakes is “a red herring.”  The statement was issued in conjunction with the release of a study by the USGS finding that deep underground injection to dispose of wastewater from oil and gas operations has had a long and vaunted history … Continue reading

Yale study in PA calms fears about contamination of water resources from hydraulic-fracturing activities

A recent Yale study debunked fears about contamination of Pennsylvania’s water resources by hydraulic fracking. The three-year-long study revealed that hydraulic fracturing is not the cause of contaminated drinking water in the Marcellus Shale. Instead, the study traced the contamination to above-surface activities. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Yale researchers analyzed 64 samples of groundwater gathered … Continue reading

First attempt to frack in Yorkshire met with five-year moratorium from Ryedale District Council

On October 9, 2015 the Ryedale District Council (RDC) voted in favor of a five year moratorium on fracking. Currently, the gas appraisal and development company Third Energy has an application pending to frack an existing well in the area to see if further development would be commercially viable. Ryedale is the largest district in … Continue reading

N.C. legislature preempts local fracking regulations with Senate Bill 119

North Carolina countered county fracking regulations with Senate Bill 119 on October 1st. Senate Bill 119 comes in at the tail of the Texas legislature’s H.B. 40, discussed earlier this week in this blog. Both designate state control versus local control over fracking regulations. Local counties, such as Chatham and Stokes, have passed hydraulic fracking moratoriums since mid-August, and Lee county is currently considering … Continue reading
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