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Pennsylvania legislators propose separate regulations for conventional and unconventional drilling operations

Three Pennsylvania state representatives plan to introduce legislation that would separate regulations for conventional and unconventional drilling operations, asserting that “conventional drilling is, without question, far different than drilling in the Marcellus Shale, and it simply makes no sense to apply the same standards to these operations.” They argue that conventional drilling has been overlooked … 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

Oil and gas companies face shareholder resolutions relating to hydraulic fracturing

Shareholders, including the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, are calling for Chevron, ExxonMobil, EOG Resources, Occidental Petroleum, and Pioneer Resources to disclose their hydraulic fracturing risk assessments. In their Proposal No. 6 on Chevron’s 2014 Proxy Statement which was filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Sisters of St. Francis state that … Continue reading

More briefs filed in Robinson Township v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Briefs continue to be filed in Robinson Township, et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al., Case No. 284 MD 2012, in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court concerning two issues: (1) whether the valid provisions of Act 13, P.L. ___, 58 Pa. C.S. §§2301-3504 (a substantial re-write of the Commonwealth’s Oil and Gas Act) are severable … Continue reading

Pennsylvania DCNR releases report on impact of shale gas development on public lands

On April 16, 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) issued a long-awaited report concerning shale gas activities in the state’s forests. In late 2010, the Bureau of Forestry initiated a Shale-Gas Monitoring Program to “track, detect, and report on the impacts of” shale gas development and “to provide objective and credible … Continue reading

Court upholds Pennsylvania’s forced pooling statute as constitutional

On April 8, 2014, a Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas judge upheld the state’s controversial forced pooling statute (section 34.1 of the Oil and Gas Lease Act) as constitutional. This pooling statute, which was signed into law on July 9, 2013, gives drillers the ability to pool leased properties into one unit for horizontal wells, … Continue reading

Opening Briefs Filed In the Remand of Robinson Township v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

In a decision dated December 19, 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Middle District, struck down major portions of Act 13, P.L. ___, 58 Pa. C.S. §§2301-3504 (a substantial re-write of the Commonwealth’s Oil and Gas Act) as unconstitutional. Robinson Township, et al v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al, No. 284 MD 2012 In the 4-2 decision, … 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

Comments on Pennsylvania’s proposed surface operations rules

The comment period for the Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection’s proposed surface operations rules ended on March 14, 2014. These proposed rules would update Chapter 78 of the Pennsylvania Code relating to the construction and operation of oil and gas wells. The proposals focus on surface activities on and off well sites, such as waste … Continue reading

Pennsylvania House Committee tables bill establishing royalty minimums

On March 11, 2014, Pennsylvania House Bill 1684, which would have established fixed minimum royalty payments for landowners with unconventional gas leases, was tabled in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee was apparently unable to move the bill to a vote due to inconsistency in the wording of the … Continue reading

New York landowners sue state officials over delays in hydraulic fracturing decision

In mid-2008, the New York legislature passed regulations covering high volume hydraulic fracturing. Then-governor David Patterson ordered the DEC to conduct an environmental evaluation of fracking and horizontal wells and ordered the well approval process halted until the study was completed which was anticipated to be November 2009. A draft report was published in September … Continue reading

Pennsylvania court reverses decision to reconsider order allowing pre-fracking testing

On January 30, 2014, Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Christine Ward dismissed her January 8th order agreeing to reconsider her memorandum opinion in which she granted an injunction allowing an oil and gas production company “reasonable ingress, egress, access to and use of the…properties of…sixteen (16) oil and gas leases…for the purpose of … Continue reading

Pennsylvania court to consider gag rule relating to disclosure of hydraulic fracturing chemicals to physicians

On December 19, 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Middle Division, issued an opinion striking down major portions of Act 13, P.L. ___, 58 Pa. C.S. §§2301-3504 (a substantial re-write of the Commonwealth’s Oil and Gas Act) as unconstitutional. Robinson Township, et al v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al, Nos. 63, 64, 72 and 73 MAP 2012 … Continue reading

Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirms lower court’s decision to deny legislators’ application to intervene in Act 13 lawsuit

On April 20, 2012, Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court denied the application of two Republican legislators to intervene in the lawsuit in which the constitutionality of Act 13, P.L. ___, 58 Pa. C.S. §§2301-3504 (a substantial re-write of the Commonwealth’s Oil and Gas Act) is being considered. The legislators appealed this order to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, … Continue reading

US DOT discuss transport safety issues with oil and rail industry leaders

With the recent December 30, 2013 derailment of tanker cars carrying oil in Casselton, North Dakota, as well as other 2013 incidents  in western Minnesota, Baltimore, Alabama, and at three sites in Canada (Gainfield, Landis, and Lac-Mégantic, where 47 people were killed when  an unattended 72-car freight train derailed in the center of town), the … Continue reading

Municipalities urge Pennsylvania Supreme Court not to reconsider its decision declaring parts of Act 13 unconstitutional

On January 14, 2014, six municipalities and an environmental group filed their answer to the state’s application for reconsideration of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s December 19, 2013 decision in which the court struck down major portions of Act 13, P.L. _____, 58 Pa. C.S. §§2301-3504 (a substantial re-write of the Oil and Gas Act) as … Continue reading

Reuse of acid mine water in hydraulic fracturing operations proposed in Pennsylvania

On January 13, 2014, the Pennsylvania Senate’s Appropriations Committee passed S.B.411 which would amend Pennsylvania’s Environmental Good Samaritan Act to limit the liability of mine operators who provide “treated mine drainage from a permitted mining activity site” for reuse in hydraulic fracturing operations in oil and gas development. The mine operators would be “immune from liability … Continue reading

Pennsylvania court agrees to re-consider injunction allowing pre-fracking tests

Upon a request from over 60 Pennsylvania landowners, Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Christine Ward agreed to re-consider her granting of an injunction to allow an oil and gas production company “reasonable ingress, egress, access to and use of the . . . properties of . . . sixteen (16) oil and gas … Continue reading

New York state sued over hydraulic fracturing moratorium

On December 17, 2013, the trustee and a shareholder for a bankrupt energy company sued New York’s governor, its Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) and other state officials, asserting that the shareholder has lost over $21 thousand due to the decrease in the value of the company’s stock and that the company has lost more than $100 million … Continue reading

Pennsylvania Supreme Court asked to reconsider its decision striking down major portions of Act 13 as unconstitutional

On January 2, 2014, the administration of Governor Tom Corbett filed an application for reargument, asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Middle District, to reconsider its December 19, 2013, decision striking down major portions of Act 13, P.L. ___, 58 Pa. C.S. §§2301-3504 (a substantial re-write of the Commonwealth’s Oil and Gas Act) as unconstitutional. In … Continue reading

Landowners ordered to allow producer to begin preliminary pre-fracking tests

On December 26, 2013, the judge in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, ordered 69 individuals and one golf course in Allegheny County to allow an oil and gas production company “reasonable ingress, egress, access to and use of the…properties of…sixteen (16) oil and gas leases identified in the Amended Complaint for … Continue reading

Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC, to pay large CWA 404 civil penalty

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice announced on December 19, 2013, that Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC, will pay a $3.2 million civil penalty and spend an EPA-estimated $6.5 million to restore 27 sites damaged by discharges of fill material into streams and wetlands and to implement a Clean Water Act (CWA) 404 … Continue reading

Pennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down major portions of Act 13 as unconstitutional

Late yesterday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in a highly fractured set of opinions, struck down major portions of Act 13, the revised Oil and Gas Act. Four opinions (totaling more than 200 pages) were issued: a majority opinion, a concurring opinion, a dissenting opinion, and a second dissenting opinion. The newest member of the Supreme … Continue reading

Do state energy laws preempt municipal zoning ordinances banning oil and gas development?: Briefs filed in NY CASE

On May 2, 2013, a New York state appeals court issued an order upholding a local ordinance banning all activities related to the exploration for, and production or storage of, natural gas and petroleum in the Town of Dryden, New York. The court affirmed the judgment of the lower court, entered on February 22, 2012, … Continue reading
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