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PA Superior Court revives trespass claim against fracking company

Last Monday, a three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court revived a trespass claim against a fracking company. The claim, which was previously defeated by summary judgment, could return to the trial court for determination of its merits. In 2015, plaintiffs filed suit against the fracking company alleging trespass and conversion. Plaintiffs claim the company used … Continue reading

Study observes possible links between hydraulic fracturing wastewater injection and seismic activity in Kansas

A new study published this month purports to link seismic activity in Kansas to wastewater disposal associated with hydraulic fracturing. Justin Rubinstein, the lead researcher, suggested that further research was needed to examine the effects of wastewater injections, stating that this study was “the tip of the iceberg as far as what we’re going to … Continue reading

Controversial study attempts to link fracking to poor infant health

Last month, in an article published in the journal Science Advances, economics professors at Princeton University, the University of Chicago, and the University of California, Los Angeles attempted to link fracking to low birth weight. The study is controversial, and has been criticized since its publication. Over the course of ten years, Janet Currie, Michael … Continue reading

BLM to rescind 2015 fracking rule

Thursday, the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) announced that it will publish a final rule to rescind a 2015 regulation requiring companies to disclose the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing. Decried by both the BLM and oil and gas trade associations as costly and duplicative of existing regulations, the repeal of this rule marks … Continue reading

PA federal judge strikes down municipal fracking ban

Late last month, a federal magistrate judge in Pennsylvania struck down a township’s ban on fracking activities. The ban, which prevented the injection of fracking waste into a well underlying the town, was preempted by state and federal law, said the judge. The judge ruled that the ban was preempted by the federal Safe Drinking … Continue reading

US 10th Circuit dismisses Obama-era fracking litigation

The US 10th Circuit on Thursday dismissed the challenge to an Obama-era fracking rule that imposed strict requirements on oil and gas operators on federal and tribal lands. The rule was blocked in 2015 and never took effect. The three-judge panel dismissed the case in its entirety—including the lower court’s decision to block the rule—in … Continue reading

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

US BLM plans to rescind Obama-era fracking rule

The US Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday issued a proposed rule that would rescind Obama-era fracking regulations. The regulations, which were promulgated in 2015 and related to hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands, had never taken effect. In March 2015, the BLM, then under the Obama administration, issued a final rule that imposed … Continue reading

Texas task force notes benefits of fracking, calls for more data

The Task Force on Environmental and Community Impacts of Shale Development in Texas on Monday released a 204-page report analyzing fracking’s impacts on the state. The Task Force, a group sponsored by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas and comprised of individuals from varied backgrounds in the energy and environmental community, lauded … Continue reading

Latest USGS study finds fracking is not a current threat to drinking water

In a study published May 31, 2017, the United States Geological Survey concluded that unconventional oil and gas production in the Eagle Ford, Fayetteville, and Haynesville shale formations is “not currently a significant source of methane or benzene to drinking water wells.” Researchers sampled over one hundred drinking-water wells in the frack zones of Texas, … Continue reading

“Crude and imperfect” expert report enough to survive summary judgment in Arkansas subsurface trespass

The 8th Circuit held on Monday, May 22, 2017, that the Arkansas district court abused its discretion when it granted summary judgment for the defendants in a subsurface trespass case. The appellate court instead held that the plaintiffs’ “crude and imperfect” expert report was not flawed to the point of exclusion and also held that, … Continue reading

US BLM asks 10th Circuit to pause review of Obama-era fracking rule

On Friday, the US Bureau of Land Management asked the Tenth Circuit to pause its review of an Obama-era rule on fracking. The rule, if implemented, would restrict fracking practices on federal and tribal lands. The move comes at a time when the BLM and other agencies are reconsidering their positions in light of 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

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

Quarterly Legislative Activity Update: Marcellus and Utica Shale Regions

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 fourth quarter of 2016. Read the … 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

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 second quarter of 2016. The next … 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
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