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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

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

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

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

Senators question EPA’s proposed research into states’ efforts to regulate hydraulic fracturing

In a letter dated May 8, 2014, five U.S. senators urged the Office of Inspector (OIG) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discontinue its “preliminary research on the EPA’s and states’ ability to manage potential threats to water resources from hydraulic fracturing,” arguing that such a review is “well outside the mission and … Continue reading

Denton, Texas City Council approves moratorium on oil and gas drilling permits

On May 6, 2014, in a 7-0 unanimous vote, the City Council of Denton, Texas approved an extension of its moratorium on oil and gas drilling permits until September 9, 2014, in order to allow the city to re-work and improve its gas well ordinances by adding provisions for notice to landowners of hydraulic fracturing … Continue reading

Dallas jury awards damages for natural gas drilling nuisance claim

On April 22, 2014, a Dallas jury in a 5 to 1 verdict awarded $2.925 million to a Wise County, Texas family who claimed serious health problems caused by the natural gas wells drilled on neighboring properties by several oil and gas companies. In their Eleventh Amended Petition, the Parr family alleged that “cumulative environmental … Continue reading

Trial begins in Texas hydraulic fracturing lawsuit

On April 8, 2014, opening arguments were heard in the case of Parr v. Aruba Petroleum, Inc., Cause No. 11-01650-E (Dallas County Ct. at Law, Mar. 8, 2011), a lawsuit in which the Parr family claims that they have serious health problems due to defendant’s oil and gas development activities, including hydraulic fracturing. This is … Continue reading

Lesser prairie-chicken added to US Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of threatened species

After more than 15 years of review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced on March 27, 2014 that the lesser prairie-chicken, a species of prairie grouse, is a “threatened” species, a step below “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The lesser prairie-chicken’s population is in rapid decline, due largely to habitat loss … Continue reading

Barnett Shale gas operators encounter opposition to hydraulic fracturing

Environmental groups, anti-fracking activists, and many urban residents want to tighten oil and gas regulations in the Barnett Shale in North Texas. Cities in the area are passing or considering legislation to limit where new wells can be drilled or to ban hydraulic fracturing completely. Recent occurrences have been: On October 18, 2013, the city … Continue reading

What’s shaking? Induced seismicity

The US Geological Survey (USGS) has long studied and prepared hazard maps predicting the risks of natural earthquakes. Now the USGS plans to integrate information relating to induced earthquakes and potentially induced earthquakes into its National Seismic Hazard Map. Since its last earthquake map in 2008, the USGS has identified a “remarkable” spate of earthquakes … Continue reading

House Democrats request hearing on induced seismicity

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, issued a letter to their Republican counterparts requesting a joint hearing on the issue of seismic activity induced by the underground injection of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing activities. In … Continue reading

Dallas City Council approves strict gas drilling regulations

On December 11, 2013, the Dallas City Council adopted revisions to the gas drilling and production regulations of the Dallas Development Code.  In a 9 to 6 vote, the Council approved regulations that require pad sites to be at least 1,500 feet from homes, schools, churches, daycare centers, hospitals, nursing homes, and other protected property.  … Continue reading

President Obama promises to veto hydraulic fracturing bill and other energy-related legislation

On November 20, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives approved two energy-related bills – one bill concerning hydraulic fracturing regulations on federal lands (H.R. 2728) and the second relating to applications for permits to drill (H.R. 1965). Two other energy bills are pending, one dealing with the permitting of natural gas pipelines (H.R. 1900) and … Continue reading

International Energy Agency predicts that the US will become world’s top energy producer in 2015 but will relinquish that position by 2020

The International Energy Agency (IEA), which was formed in the 1970s to keep track of trends and improve energy security, released its World Energy Outlook 2013 in London on November 12, 2013. The 2013 Outlook provides a review of key trends that IEA believes will shape the future of global energy through 2035. For the … Continue reading

Texas Court of Appeals interprets Horizontal Pugh Clause in oil and gas lease

On January 26, 2005, Community Bank of Raymore, as Trustee or Agent (“CBR”) entered into an oil and gas lease with Chesapeake Exploration L.L.C. and Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. The lease covered approximately 16,000 acres in Loving County, Texas, which was divided into four blocks. During the primary term, the companies drilled 13 producing wells on … Continue reading

Proposed legislation would allow a state to control hydraulic fracturing on public lands within its borders

On July 18, 2013, U.S. Representative Bill Flores (R-Texas) proposed legislation (H.B. 2728 – Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act) that would allow a state to control hydraulic fracturing on public lands within its borders if the state has hydraulic fracturing rules already in place. This legislation would bar the federal government … Continue reading