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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

Quarterly Legislative Action Update: Marcellus and Utica Shale Region

Our Norton Rose Fulbright Pittsburgh-Southpointe practice tracks legislative activity that we believe may impact oil and gas development within the Marcellus and Utica shale regions (Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio). This Quarterly Update contains all of the relevant legislative activity occurring in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio during the third quarter of 2015. The next issue … Continue reading

Wyoming federal judge issues preliminary injunction against BLM’s hydraulic fracturing regulations

The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and several states, including Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, Utah, and the Ute Indian Tribe rejoiced when Wyoming federal judge Scott W. Skavdahl issued a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) new hydraulic fracturing regulations. “We are pleased to see Judge Skavdahl agrees with our request … Continue reading

North Dakota utilizes tax incentive scheme to encourage oil production

According to the North Dakota Industrial Commission, the amount of crude oil produced in the state has decreased dramatically. Whereas 1.2 MMb/d of crude oil was produced in the state in December, only 37 Mb/d was produced in January. In addition, the number of wells completed in the state also dropped. Commentators have speculated that … Continue reading

Opposition to federal fracking rules grows

Earlier this year, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its final version of rules governing hydraulic fracturing on federal land. As discussed in a previous post, these rules will not only impose heightened requirements on drilling operations but also increase the reporting duties for drilling operators. Shortly after the BLM released … Continue reading

Ohio court strikes down local drilling ban

On March 10, 2015, a Cuyahoga County trial court struck down a local ban on oil and gas development. See Bass Energy, Inc. v. Broadview Heights, Slip Opinion No. CV-14-828074 (Cuyahoga Cnty. Ct. Mar. 10, 2015). This decision comes less than a month after the Ohio Supreme Court struck down a neighboring city’s ordinance which restricted oil … Continue reading

Ohio Supreme Court strikes down local regulation of oil and gas operations

On February 17, 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a long-awaited opinion in State ex rel. Morrison v. Beck Energy Corp. The Court, in a divided opinion (3-1-3), held that Ohio’s Home Rule Amendment does not allow a local municipality to enforce its own permitting scheme in addition to the statewide scheme adopted under Ohio … Continue reading

North Dakota considers additional regulation of oil and gas operations

Several federal agencies have announced that they will adopt additional regulations for the oil and gas industry this year. It appears that states are also weighing additional regulatory measures. North Dakota is contemplating legislation targeted at reducing the time oil companies burn natural gas from oil wells. The bill proposal is sponsored by Senator Connie … Continue reading

Latest study adds to debate over the alleged connection between fracking and seismic activity

Scientists are in the midst of a heated debate concerning the alleged connection between hydraulic fracturing and seismic activity. To date, scientists have been unable to reach a consensus on this issue. The latest study appears to continue that trend. Geologists in Kansas recently released a study suggesting that there is a correlation between oil … Continue reading

North Dakota adopts heightened safety standards for the transportation of oil by rail

The increase in the number of accidents involving the transportation of oil by rail has increased the scrutiny on shippers of Bakken crude oil. In response, the United States Department of Transportation has proposed new rules to govern the shipment of oil by rail and has also issued emergency orders on this topic. It appears … Continue reading

Increased rail traffic leads to heightened regulations

Compared to last year, transportation of goods by rail has increased. The two commodities with the largest increase in rail traffic have been coal and crude oil products. Transportation of crude oil and petroleum products by rail has increased by 13.4 percent. From January to October 2014, more than 672,000 tank cars have transported oil … Continue reading

Proposed class action filed in Illinois state court challenging denial of fracking permits

Amy Pollard and a number of mineral rights owners have filed a proposed class action against the state of Illinois in the Circuit Court for the Second Judicial Circuit of Illinois. Plaintiffs allege that Illinois’s refusal to grant fracking permits violates their rights under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution as well as … Continue reading

IPAA response to proposed rule on transportation of crude oil by rail

The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) recently submitted comments regarding the proposed rule concerning the shipping of crude oil by rail. In the rule, the Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) specified, among other things, that the tanker car fleet currently used must … Continue reading

Reports show Bakken crude oil within safety standards

The North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) recently released the results of studies relating to the characteristics of Bakken crude oil and the standards required to transport crude oil by rail. These studies in part respond to a safety alert issued on January 2, 2014, by the Pipeline … Continue reading

Federal Judge in North Dakota dismisses thirteen gas-flaring royalty lawsuits

On May 14, 2014, US District Judge Daniel L. Hovland dismissed thirteen proposed class actions in which the plaintiffs sought payment of royalties for gas that was flared by oil and gas companies after flaring was permitted by North Dakota statute. The Judge ruled that the US District Court did not have subject matter jurisdiction … Continue reading

EPA reviews states’ solid waste management regulations for oil and gas operations

In an April 1, 2014 memorandum, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) summarized state regulatory programs concerning the management of solid waste from oil and natural gas exploration, development and production (E&P) operations. In reviewing each state’s regulations, the EPA focused on surface storage and disposal facilities managing produced waters, drilling muds, drilling cuttings, hydraulic … Continue reading

Three oil companies voluntarily provide Bakken crude oil testing information to U.S. Department of Transportation

On May 2, 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced that three oil and gas companies voluntarily provided testing data on the crude oil that they ship from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale. This data was supplied in response to the USDOT’s call for action in January 2014, asking that oil companies, shippers, railroads, and … Continue reading

Minnesotans seek two-year moratorium on frac sand mining

More than 6,000 residents of southeastern Minnesota signed a petition to enact a two-year moratorium on frac sand mining, declaring that “southeast Minnesota should be off-limits to the frac sand industry” in order to protect air and water quality. The Land Stewardship Project, the group sponsoring the petition, asserted that the governor had the authority … Continue reading

Methane emissions from oil and gas operations targeted by state regulations

Ohio has joined Colorado and Wyoming in issuing new regulations aimed at limiting the emission of methane gas from oil and natural gas operations to address climate change and health concerns. In development for more than a year, the revised Ohio rules are effective immediately and apply to high volume hydraulic fracturing, oil and gas … Continue reading

Bans, moratoriums and votes relating to hydraulic fracturing

Each state has legitimate interests in the orderly development of their oil and gas resources and generally regulates all oil and gas activities through a state agency which implements state laws. Counties and municipalities have also taken interest in the development of oil and gas resources within their boundaries by enacting local ordinances ranging from … Continue reading

Ohio DNR investigates earthquakes near gas drilling site

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is investigating four small earthquakes that occurred on March 10, 2014 in Poland Township. These four earthquakes measured 3.0, 2.4, 2.2 and 2.6 in magnitude, causing no injuries or damages. The National Earthquake Information Center of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) placed the epicenter of the 3.0 earthquake … Continue reading

Lesser prairie-chicken added to US Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of threatened species

After more than 15 years of review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced on March 27, 2014 that the lesser prairie-chicken, a species of prairie grouse, is a “threatened” species, a step below “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The lesser prairie-chicken’s population is in rapid decline, due largely to habitat loss … Continue reading

Wrongful death lawsuits, by-pass routes and first responder training – Issues relating to the transport of oil products by rail

Nineteen wrongful death lawsuits from the July 2013 train derailment and explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada were transferred from U.S. District Court in Illinois to the U.S. District Court in Maine on March 21, 2014. The Maine federal judge ordering the transfer found that these lawsuits were “related to” the Maine bankruptcy proceedings filed by … Continue reading

North Dakota approves flare reduction recommendations

The North Dakota Industrial Commission adopted several recommendations from the Department of Mineral Resources to reduce the amount of flaring in the state. These recommendations were based on work of the North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) Flaring Task Force that was formed to study ways to increase the capture of flared gas. In December 2013, … Continue reading
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