Topic: Pennsylvania

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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

US Forest Service issues plan allowing fracking in George Washington National Forest

On Tuesday, November 18, 2014, the United States Forest Service’s (USFS) Southern Regional Forester issued a Revised Land and Resource Management Plan and Record of Decision allowing natural gas drilling to take place on 177,200 acres of the George Washington National Forest located in Virginia and West Virginia. The new plan will go into effect … Continue reading

According to Pennsylvania, failure to run title search constitutes bad faith in trespass to minerals suit

The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld an award of US$250,000 in favor of the owner of subsurface rights, who claimed that those rights were drilled on without his permission. The owner of the subsurface rights properly recorded his interest pursuant to state statute in 1997. Several years later, the defendants improperly leased the mineral rights from … Continue reading

Pennsylvania Supreme Court considers whether estoppel-by-deed applies to oil and gas lease

An exploration & production company urged the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to uphold a lower court ruling which held that the doctrine of estoppel-by-deed applied to an oil and gas lease. “Parties should not be able to convey, under a covenant of warranty, more than they actually own, only to quiet title when the value or … Continue reading

Pennsylvania congressman seeks records from Department of Environmental Protection related to fracking waste disposal

Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Democrat representing Pennsylvania 17th Congressional District, has asked the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) to provide records about its process for monitoring the handling and disposal of wastes from hydraulic fracturing. Rep. Cartwright made the request as the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory … Continue reading

Pennsylvania bill requiring monthly reporting of natural gas production heads to the Governor

On October 15, 2014, Pennsylvania legislators approved a bill that would require monthly reports of natural gas production from wells in unconventional formations. Operators of such wells are currently required to report natural gas production to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on a semi-annual basis. The legislative impetus to approve the bill may be … Continue reading

Middle District of Pennsylvania holds lessor is bound by change of ownership provision, lessee properly extended lease

In a case of first impression in Pennsylvania, Judge Matthew Brann of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania held that an extension payment made by a predecessor-in-interest of the lessee to a predecessor-in-interest of the lessor was sufficient to extend the lease, where the lessee did not have notice of … Continue reading

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection proposes changes to oil and gas enforcement policies

On October 4, 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“PADEP”) published notice of a draft policy titled “Standards and Guidelines for Identifying, Tracking, and Resolving Oil and Gas Violations” (the “Proposed Policy”).  The Proposed Policy contains new processes and revises existing guidelines and will have an impact on how operators interact with the PADEP. … Continue reading

Even more studies looking at fracking’s possible environmental effects

The possible environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing are evidently a hot subject for research. Yale University researchers recently released yet another study on the topic, this one assessing the relative rate of residents’ rates of complaints regarding their health in relation to the proximity of those residents’ homes to natural gas wells. The study categorized proximity … Continue reading

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court invalidates Act 13 provisions granting the review of local ordinances

On July 17, 2014, following a December 19, 2013, remand by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the Commonwealth Court issued its opinion addressing challenges to several sections of Pennsylvania’s new Oil and Gas Act (known as Act 13). The Commonwealth Court, in a split decision, held: (i) that the sections granting the Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) … Continue reading

Third Circuit holds that Shut-In Royalty Provision maintains lease on non-producing wells

On July 17, 2014, the Third Circuit affirmed a grant of a motion to dismiss in connection with a claim that an oil and gas lease had expired (Messner v. SWEPI LP, No. 13-3813, slip op. (3d Cir. July 17, 2014)). The lessor claimed that vertical wells drilled to the Marcellus Shale formation and then … Continue reading

New study reports that Pennsylvania fracking wells leak more than traditional counterparts

According to a study of Pennsylvania state inspection reports, newer and unconventional wells leak more often than their older and traditional counterparts. The report, published on June 30, 2014 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that methane leaks could pose a problem for drilling across the nation. Four scientists analyzed over … Continue reading

Pennsylvania waste hauling company faces criminal charges

On June 6, 2014, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kale filed criminal charges against a fracking waste hauling company and its owner.The company and its owner face charges for violating Pennsylvania’s SolidWaste Management Act and Clean Streams Law, overbilling customers, and participating in multiple criminal conspiracies to commit insurance fraud.According to a presentment by a statewide … Continue reading

Pennsylvania legislators propose statute relating to seismic testing

On May 13, 2014, several members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives proposed a new statute relating to seismic testing (H.B. 2254). The bill will make it “a rebuttable presumption of law that a person conducting seismic testing is liable and responsible for all damage within 1,000 feet of where the seismic testing was conducted … Continue reading

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

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

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
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