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Texas house committee on energy resources approves bill to preempt local fracking bans

Denton, Texas garnered national attention when it enacted a local measure banning hydraulic fracturing within the city limits. At the time, many spectators suggested that the measure would be short-lived because of legal challenges in the court system and potential legislation from the Texas Legislature. Soon after the enactment of the ban, several members of … Continue reading

Texas Legislature considers incentives for use of alternative fracking fluids

The Texas Legislature is currently considering several bills related to hydraulic fracturing and the oil and gas industry in general. Last Friday, March 13th, two additional bills were proposed in the Texas Legislature that would incentivize the use of alternative fracking fluids. The bills—H.B. 4035 and H.B. 4021—were introduced by Representative Drew Darby and Representative … Continue reading

Texas Legislature considers bills to restrict local regulation of oil and gas activities

Soon after Denton, Texas enacted its hydraulic fracturing ban, many commentators suggested that the Texas Legislature may enact legislation targeted at restricting the ability of local governments to adopt anti-fracking measures. It appears that this prediction was accurate. On March 13th, members of the Texas Legislature introduced two bills aimed at limiting the authority of … Continue reading

Texas Supreme Court refrains from deciding subsurface trespass issue

Earlier this month, the Texas Supreme Court issued its decision in Envt’l Processing Sys., L.C. v. FPL Farming Ltd. The case garnered a significant amount of attention from the oil and gas industry because it involved the issue of whether a party can sue for trespass over the subsurface migration of wastewater. Indeed, a number … Continue reading

Mineral rights owners’ suit against Denton to remain in federal court

To say that the city of Denton, Texas is embroiled in litigation concerning its drilling ban would be an understatement. The city is currently facing two lawsuits challenging the validity of the recently enacted ban against hydraulic fracturing, one suit filed by the Texas Oil and Gas Association and the other suit filed by the … Continue reading

Another local fracking ban invalidated

Throughout the country, supporters and opponents of local fracking bans have engaged in a fierce debate over the legality of such legislation. Indeed, suits have been filed in California, Colorado, New York, Texas, and West Virginia to challenge anti-fracking measures enacted by localities. The majority of courts to consider the legality of these local ordinances … Continue reading

Methane emissions from fracking on the decline

Anti-fracking groups have been clamoring over the negative impact fracking has on the environment. One of the primary arguments raised by these groups is that fracking leads to high methane emissions. A newly released study suggests that anti-fracking groups may need to find a new argument against fracking. The Cockrell School of Engineering at the … Continue reading

Environmental groups seek to defend Denton fracking ban

Soon after the city of Denton passed a prohibition on fracking earlier this year, the city was sued by several parties alleging that the fracking ban was invalid. It appears that the city of Denton may have some support in its defense of the fracking ban. On December 4th, Earthwork and the Denton Drilling Awareness … Continue reading

Fracking bans may thrust California localities into contentious legal battle

On November 4th, Denton became the first city in Texas to enact a ban against hydraulic fracturing. The next day, several members of the oil and gas industry and the state of Texas sued Denton, alleging that the ban was invalid. It is possible that other parties are also planning on suing Denton over the … Continue reading

The Texas General Land Office sues Denton to stop enforcement of fracking ban

On November 4th, the majority of Denton residents voted in favor of a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing, thereby making it the first Texas city to adopt such a measure. As many observers predicted, the ban has sparked legal challenges. The morning after the election, the Texas General Land Office (GLO) filed a motion for … Continue reading

The Texas Railroad Commission enacts new rules governing disposal wells

On Tuesday, the Texas Railroad Commission (Commission) adopted several amendments to the current rules governing disposal wells. The Commission circulated an earlier version of the amendments in August; however, the Commission made slight variations to the amendments based on several comments it received during the public comment period. The revised amendments are set to become … Continue reading

Fracking dominates the November ballot

One of the most highly debated issues during the November election was the question of whether localities have the authority to enact fracking bans. Several cities throughout the country have attempted to enact prohibitions against hydraulic fracturing with varying degrees of success. Denton, Texas has become one of the latest cities to consider such a … Continue reading

Oklahoma orders shut down of disposal well after multiple earthquakes

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (Commission) ordered the temporary shut down of a disposal well near Cushing. Cushing has reported several earthquakes in October. Two earthquakes with a 3.2 and 4.0 magnitude, respectively, occurred on October 7th, and a 4.3 magnitude earthquake occurred three days later. There was also a 2.7 magnitude earthquake later in the … Continue reading

Fracking goes to the ballot: Multiple venues to vote on hydraulic fracturing bans tomorrow

Recently, the debate over hydraulic fracturing has centered on whether localities have the authority to enact fracking bans. As one commentator described, courts are confronted with “the right of home rule versus the authority of the state to regulate natural resource development.”[1] Several cities throughout the United States have attempted to impose such bans with … Continue reading

Seismic activity and fracking concerns prompt new rules for oil and gas disposal wells in Texas

On October 28th, the Railroad Commission of Texas (“RRC”) amended its existing oil and gas disposal well regulations to require seismic activity data in permit applicants, provide for more frequent monitoring and reporting for certain wells, and allow modification, suspension, or termination of permits on grounds that a disposal well is contributing to seismic activity. Specifically: … Continue reading

Update on Texas Railroad Commission’s proposed rule amendments for injection wells – the EPA weighs in

The EPA recently sent a letter to the Texas Railroad Commission commenting on that agency’s recently-proposed rule amendments for wastewater injection wells.  While the letter contains several minor, technical criticisms of the proposed rule amendments, the general tone of the letter is positive.  In the words of the EPA’s managers, the “RRC’s proposed regulatory changes … Continue reading

US geological survey researchers release findings on reports of induced seismicity in Colorado and New Mexico

Researchers with the US Geological Survey recently released a study claiming a link between wastewater injection and reported seismicity in the Raton Basin of Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. The researchers sought to explain a series of August-September 2011 earthquakes in the region and claimed that there was “strong evidence that [the] earthquake sequence … Continue reading

Two studies raise doubt in links between fracking and groundwater contamination

Two studies concluding that hydraulic fracturing is not linked to groundwater contamination were released on Monday, September 22, 2014. The results of these studies could impact lawsuits claiming fracking caused groundwater contamination and shift the emphasis of regulators to the impact of faulty fracked wells themselves. The United States Department of Energy released a study … Continue reading

Study finds no link between hydraulic fracturing and water pollution in Marcellus and Barnett Shale regions

A report published Monday concludes that, in areas of the country where natural gas drilling is common, recent cases of natural gas migration into drinking water sources likely are not the direct result of horizontal drilling itself nor of the hydraulic fracturing process, but rather can be traced to instances of defective well construction. Researchers … Continue reading

Researchers tout new substance for use in treating flowback water

Researchers with the Southwest Research Institute (“SwRI”) and The University of Texas at San Antonio (“UTSA”) reported last week that they have created and tested substances called “biochar” for use in treating flowback water from wells using hydraulic fracturing. In a press release, the researchers note that biochar is a stable, charcoal-like substance created from … Continue reading

Texas Railroad Commission seismologist speaks on agency’s motivation in proposing injection well rule amendments

Last Monday, August 25, 2014, Texas Railroad Commission seismologist Craig Pearson testified before the Texas House of Representatives. Pearson noted that researchers from Southern Methodist University continue to track ongoing, extremely low-grade seismic activity in North Texas, which he called “micro-earthquakes.” Pearson continued, stating that the Commission believes that it is a “change in pressure … Continue reading

Texas proposes rule to evaluate seismic activity related to fracking

On August 12, 2014, the Railroad Commission of Texas (“RRC”) approved several proposed amendments to fracking regulations in the Texas Administrative Code for publication in the Texas Register. These proposed amendments relate generally to additional permitting requirements for disposal wells. Additionally, the proposed amendments would codify the RRC’s authority to request increased monitoring and reporting … Continue reading

New EPA emissions proposal draws harsh criticism in Texas

A recent EPA proposal to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants has drawn harsh criticism from Texas leaders. The proposal requires a 30 percent reduction in emissions by 2030. Critics of the rule say the EPA has no authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, and that the rule has an … Continue reading

Recent studies concerning induced seismicity and wastewater disposal wells

At the Seismological Society of America’s annual conference held in early May 2014, several studies examined whether there is a correlation between the injection of wastewater into disposal wells and seismic activity. In an abstract entitled “Potential Case of Induced Seismicity from A Water Disposal Well in South-Central Oklahoma,” the researcher found that a swarm … Continue reading
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