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Delaware River Basin Commission to consider fracking ban

On Wednesday, the Delaware River Basin Commission voted to begin the rule making process that could lead to a fracking ban in parts of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The Commission, which regulates the Delaware River watershed and is comprised of members from each of the above states and a representative from the … Continue reading

Maryland bans fracking

Maryland’s governor, Larry Hogan, on Tuesday signed into law a bill that bans hydraulic fracturing in the state. The move comes a week after the state’s legislature passed the bill. Maryland currently has no fracking activity inside its borders, leading many to label the move political—that is, a play to constituents without much consequence. But … Continue reading

PA federal judge vacates controversial fracking verdict

In a win for industry, a Pennsylvania federal judge on Friday vacated a controversial fracking verdict in the highly publicized case Ely v. Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. The verdict was against the great weight of the evidence and shaded by the plaintiffs’ attorney’s missteps, said the court in its decision. Last March, a Pennsylvania … 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

Legislative Activity Update – Three Pennsylvania Bills

The following bill, which had been introduced previously, has been acted upon by the General Assembly since the last Legislative Activity Update: PA House Bill 1704 – Amendments to Engineer, Land Surveyor and Geologist Registration Law Sponsor: Mark Mustio (Republican – part of Allegheny County [outside Pittsburgh]) Overview: Provides for use of current term “Engineer Intern” … Continue reading

Legislative Activity Update – Two Pennsylvania Bills

The following bill, which had been introduced previously, has been acted upon by the General Assembly since the last Legislative Activity Update: PA House Bill 1327 – Amendments to Fiscal Code Sponsor: Michael Peifer (Republican – parts of Pike and Wayne Counties [northeast Pennsylvania]) Overview: Original bill (Printer’s Number 1788) was unrelated to oil and gas. … Continue reading

Legislative Activity Update – 7 Pennsylvania Bills and 1 Resolution

The following two bills, which had been introduced previously, have been acted upon by the General Assembly since the last Legislative Activity Update: PA House Bill 1325 – Amendments to Second Class Township Code Regarding Storm Water Facilities Sponsor: Mark Mustio (Republican – part of Allegheny County [Pittsburgh]) Overview: Allows board of supervisors to enact … Continue reading

Legislative Activity Update – Three Pennsylvania Bills

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 748 was signed into law as Act 55 on October 30, 2015, by Governor Tom Wolf.  In the House of Representatives, two new bills were introduced. PA Senate Bill 748 – Certified Escort Vehicles for “Super Loads” Sponsor: David G. Argall (Republican – Schuylkill County and part of Berks County [outside Reading]) … Continue reading

Legislative Activity Update – Two Pennsylvania Bills

The following two already-introduced bills have been acted upon by the General Assembly since our last Update: PA House Bill 965 – Amendments to Regulatory Review Act Sponsor: Robert W. Godshall (Republican – part of Montgomery County [outside Philadelphia]) Overview: Amends Regulatory Review Act (Act of Jun. 25, 1982, P.L. 633, No. 181) to require … 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

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

Pennsylvania judge dismisses tortious interference suit against environmental companies and local residents

A Pennsylvania state court judge recently dismissed a Butler County fracking lawsuit. In a unique twist, the landowning plaintiffs in this case brought suit against two environmental groups–the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Clean Air Council–and local residents. Plaintiffs in this case are a Butler County developer and various local landowners who have oil and gas … Continue reading

Legislative Activity Update: Four Pennsylvania Bills

The following two already-introduced bills have been acted upon by the General Assembly since our last Update: PA Senate Bill 875 – Treated Mine Water Act Sponsor: Camera Bartolotta (Greene County and parts of Beaver and Washington counties [southwestern Pennsylvania]) Overview: Provides immunity from liability to mine operators for use of treated mine water used in oil … Continue reading

Legislative Activity Update: Six Pennsylvania Bills, Including One New Severance Tax Bill

PA Senate Bill 307 – Provides for independent counsel for the Environmental Quality Board Sponsor: John T. Yudichak (Democrat – Carbon County and part of Luzerne County [northeast Pennsylvania]) Overview: Requires the Department of Environmental Protection to appoint independent counsel for the benefit of the Environmental Quality Board (“EQB”).Independent counsel shall assist EQB on all matters, … Continue reading

Legislative Activity Update – Three Pennsylvania Bills

The following bills were introduced in the Pennsylvania General Assembly: PA Senate Bill 415 – Natural Gas Severance Tax Sponsor: Arthur L. Haywood III (Democrat – Philadelphia and part of Montgomery County) Overview: Extensive severance tax bill, with rate of “8% of the gross value of units severed at the wellhead during a reporting period.”Repeals sunset provision … Continue reading

New York Court of Appeals refuses to extend drilling rights

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Second Circuit) certified a question to the New York Court of Appeals (Court of Appeals) that could have provided an avenue by which an energy company could have maintained its right to drill in New York. Specifically, the company argued that New York’s decision to … Continue reading

Federal court in Pennsylvania grants summary judgment in favor of exploration and production company on claims of strict liability, nuisance, and negligence

On March 25, 2015, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania entered summary judgment in favor of an exploration and production company on claims of strict liability, nuisance, and negligence, by a Tioga County landowner related to drilling activity near his property.  Chief Magistrate Judge Carlson found that the uncontroverted evidence … Continue reading

Study concludes that fracking does not increase methane levels in drinking water

Over the past couple of years, the number of studies related to the alleged environmental impact from hydraulic fracturing have increased dramatically. In fact, some of these studies have contradicted each other. That said, lately, multiple studies have concluded that hydraulic fracturing does not have the detrimental impact on the environment that several environmental groups … Continue reading

Middle District of Pennsylvania finds separate natural gas compressor stations are not a “single source”

On February 23, 2015, the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted Ultra Resources, Inc.’s motion for summary judgment, holding as a matter of law that eight compressor stations owned and operated by Ultra Resources, Inc. (“Ultra”) were not a “single source” for air quality permitting purposes. See Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future … Continue reading

Maryland state senators propose legislation targeting hydraulic fracturing

Senators Robert A. Zirkin and Jamie Raskin have introduced legislation aimed at drastically reducing hydraulic fracturing operations in Maryland. The bill, Senate Bill 458, would hold parties engaging in hydraulic fracturing operations strictly liable for injuries, deaths, or other losses caused by the fracking activities. A plaintiff relying on Senate Bill 458 would have a … Continue reading

New appeal provides Pennsylvania Supreme Court the opportunity to reverse fracking approach

One of the most highly debated issues facing states recently has been the legality of local fracking bans. In response to this issue, the Pennsylvania legislature opted to amend the state’s Oil and Gas Act by adding Act 13. Act 13 imposed a statewide regulatory scheme for oil and gas operations and prohibited localities from … Continue reading

Pennsylvania advocates for the continued protection of fracking trade secrets

Pennsylvania permits medical professionals to obtain the chemical composition of fracking fluids used by oil and gas companies if the information is necessary for the treatment or diagnosis of a patient, the patient may have been exposed to a hazardous chemical, and the information may assist in the patient’s treatment. Before receiving the information, however, … Continue reading

Pennsylvania fracking trade secret rule in jeopardy

The fluids used during hydraulic fracturing are an integral component of the fracking process. Although the fracking fluids are primarily composed of water and sand, manufacturers add varying amounts of chemicals to the fluids. The composition of the chemicals used in fracking fluids are protected by companies as trade secrets. The ability of companies to … Continue reading
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