Topic: Marcellus Shale

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Proposed Delaware River Basin fracking ban sparks legislation

On May 16, 2019, Delaware Governor John Carey, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a proclamation in support of a permanent fracking ban in the Delaware River Basin.

The Delaware River Basin is a 330-mile-long river watershed running through four states: New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Since 1961, the Delaware River Basin Commission (“DRBC”), a regional interstate and federal agency, has managed the basin. The governors for the four basin states and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the North Atlantic Division make up the voting members of the … Continue Reading

Landowners, energy companies file briefs seeking to capture Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling in historic hydraulic fracking case

Over the past few months, new developments have taken place in the historic Pennsylvania Supreme Court case involving landowners’ trespass and conversion claims against an energy company based on hydraulic fracking activities. Back in November 2018, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania agreed to hear the case to consider whether the rule of capture applies to hydraulic fracking. Since November, both parties, as well as numerous amici curiae, have filed briefs.… Continue Reading

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania set to determine whether rule of capture applies to fracking

On November 20, 2018, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued a one-page order agreeing to consider whether the rule of capture applies to hydraulic fracturing. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s review comes after the Pennsylvania Superior Court overturned decades of precedent and decided the rule of capture did not apply to fracking wells.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will consider a single question on appeal: “[d]oes the rule of capture apply to oil and gas produced from wells that were completed using hydraulic fracturing and preclude trespass liability for allegedly draining oil or gas from under nearby property, where the well … Continue Reading

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 hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas beneath the plaintiffs’ property, where the company did not have a lease, from an adjacent tract on which it had a lease.… 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 Water Act and Pennsylvania’s Act 13, which prevents municipalities from passing ordinances that regulate oil and gas activity except through limited channels, namely the state’s Municipalities Planning Code and Flood Plain Management Act.… 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 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, now has until November 30 to draft its proposal.

The Delaware River watershed encompasses parts of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware and provides drinking water to millions of people in the four states. It also encompasses territory rich … 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 the western part of the state sits atop a portion of the Marcellus Shale, and industry for a while now has considered the prospect of drilling in the state.

Environmentalists praise the governor’s actions, but opponents of the law defend fracking and its safety. They … Continue Reading

Legislative Activity Update – Five Pennsylvania Bills

The following bill, which has been introduced previously, has been acted upon by the General Assembly since the last Legislative Activity Update:

PA House Bill 1391 – Amendments to Oil and Gas Lease Act

Sponsor: Garth D. Everett (Republican – parts of Lycoming and Union counties [northern Pennsylvania])
Overview: Adds definitions for “lessee,” “lessor,” “operator,” “production unit,” “royalty,” “royalty payment,” “unconventional formation,” and “unconventional gas well.”

Requires that the minimum royalty payment to a lessor shall not be less than one-eighth of the price received by operator.

Prohibits deductions for “any” costs that would reduce royalty below one-eighth.

Applies to

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Legislative Activity Update – Two Pennsylvania Bills

The following bill, which had been introduced previously, has been acted upon by the General Assembly since the last Legislative Activity Update:

PA House Bill 1327 – Amendments to Fiscal Code

Sponsor: Michael Peifer (Republican – parts of Pike and Wayne Counties [northeast Pennsylvania])
Overview:

Original bill

(Printer’s Number 1788) was unrelated to oil and gas.

Amendments:

House Bill 1327 became the vehicle to implement provisions of General Fund budget, most of which are unrelated to oil and gas development or regulation.  Provisions relevant to oil and gas development in each of the bill’s subsequent amended versions are

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Legislative Activity Update – 7 Pennsylvania Bills and 1 Resolution

The following two bills, which had been introduced previously, have been acted upon by the General Assembly since the last Legislative Activity Update:

PA House Bill 1325 – Amendments to Second Class Township Code Regarding Storm Water Facilities

Sponsor: Mark Mustio (Republican – part of Allegheny County [Pittsburgh])
Overview: Allows board of supervisors to enact and enforce ordinances to govern and regulate the planning, management, implementation, construction, and maintenance of storm water facilities.

Allows township to assess fees based in whole or in part on the characteristics of the subject property.

Amendments: Printer’s Number 2554:
Changes provision relating to
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Legislative Activity Update – Three Pennsylvania Bills

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 748 was signed into law as Act 55 on October 30, 2015, by Governor Tom Wolf.  In the House of Representatives, two new bills were introduced.

PA Senate Bill 748 – Certified Escort Vehicles for “Super Loads”

Sponsor: David G. Argall (Republican – Schuylkill County and part of Berks County [outside Reading])
Overview: Eliminates mandatory escort of “super load” by Pennsylvania State Police.

Directs Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (“PennDOT”) to establish criteria for certified escort vehicles and certification and licensing of drivers of same.Allows for permitting of movement of “super load” escorted by one certified escort vehicle,

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Legislative Activity Update – Two Pennsylvania Bills

The following two already-introduced bills have been acted upon by the General Assembly since our last Update:

PA House Bill 965 – Amendments to Regulatory Review Act

Sponsor: Robert W. Godshall (Republican – part of Montgomery County [outside Philadelphia])
Overview: Amends Regulatory Review Act (Act of Jun. 25, 1982, P.L. 633, No. 181) to require that Committee Chairs provide a copy of any proposed regulation, as well as stakeholder comments and any comments from the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (“IRRC”), to committee members by paper or electronic copy within five (5) days of receipt.Authorizes Committee Chairs to hold
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Yale study in PA calms fears about contamination of water resources from hydraulic-fracturing activities

A recent Yale study debunked fears about contamination of Pennsylvania’s water resources by hydraulic fracking. The three-year-long study revealed that hydraulic fracturing is not the cause of contaminated drinking water in the Marcellus Shale. Instead, the study traced the contamination to above-surface activities.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Yale researchers analyzed 64 samples of groundwater gathered from private residences located in northeastern Pennsylvania. This research covered about 2,800 square miles of the Marcellus Shale. Researchers discovered that the groundwater-contamination samples were most likely affected by the gas-extraction operations above the ground surface, not migration … 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 third quarter of 2015.

The next issue of the Quarterly Update will be published in early January 2016 and will contain all of the legislative activity occurring through the fourth quarter of 2015, highlighting changes occurring during that quarter. New legislative activity occurring after publication of this Update will be posted … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania judge dismisses tortious interference suit against environmental companies and local residents

A Pennsylvania state court judge recently dismissed a Butler County fracking lawsuit. In a unique twist, the landowning plaintiffs in this case brought suit against two environmental groups–the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Clean Air Council–and local residents. Plaintiffs in this case are a Butler County developer and various local landowners who have oil and gas royalty interests. They assert claims for tortious interference with contracts, tortious interference with contractual relations, and civil conspiracy.

In 2014, Defendants petitioned the local government to overturn an ordinance that allowed fracking and related activities in Middlesex Township. As a result of this 2014 lawsuit, … Continue Reading

Legislative Activity Update: Four Pennsylvania Bills

The following two already-introduced bills have been acted upon by the General Assembly since our last Update:

PA Senate Bill 875 – Treated Mine Water Act

Sponsor: Camera Bartolotta (Greene County and parts of Beaver and Washington counties [southwestern Pennsylvania])
Overview: Provides immunity from liability to mine operators for use of treated mine water used in oil or gas well development.

Provides immunity from liability for treatment or abatement of mine drainage or mine pool water to persons who acquire treated mine water for use in oil or gas development.

Does not remove liability for unlawful spills or releases.Treated mine

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Legislative Update: Ohio Bill Regarding Emergency Response Plans

OH Senate Bill 166 – Horizontal wells-emergency response plans
Sponsor: Lou Gentile (Democrat – 30th Senate District)
Overview: Requires owners of horizontal wells to develop and implement emergency response plans in order to respond to emergencies at the surface location of their wells that threaten public health or safety.

The plan must establish response actions to be taken during the following: (i) construction of the well pad; (ii) drilling; (iii) well stimulation; (iv) production; (v) plugging; and (vi) restoration of the surface location.

The plan must describe the actions to be taken by the owner’s employees at the well to

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US Coast Guard proposes rules allowing fracking waste water to be transported by barge

The disposal of large volumes of wastewater produced during shale gas extraction has posed challenges for companies, regulators, and communities, especially in the Marcellus Shale region.

In 2012, the U.S. Coast Guard received two requests for approval for the bulk shipment of wastewater resulting from hydraulic fracturing operations in Pennsylvania and the northern Appalachia area. 
On October 30, 2013, in the Federal Register, the Coast Guard published proposed rules to allow barges to transport wastewater in bulk; thus, providing companies an alternative to storing the waste at the drilling site or transporting it by rail or truck to remote facilities.… Continue Reading

New York advocacy group sues Department of Health for disclosure of documents related to hydraulic fracturing

On September 13, 2013, the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, an advocacy group based in Finger Lakes, New York, sued the New York Department of Health (NYDOH), seeking the disclosure of documents related to the state’s review of hydraulic fracturing, which has been banned in New York since 2008.

The NYDOH is conducting an ongoing review of the state’s Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, which addresses permit conditions required for gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale and other areas of New York, to determine whether those guidelines would adequately protect public health.

In its filing, the group, which is critical … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Legislators Propose New Statutes Relating to Forced Pooling and Royalty Payments

Since it was signed by the Governor in July 2013, Pennsylvania’s new law allowing drillers to pool leased properties into one unit for horizontal wells, as long as the oil and gas contracts in effect do not prohibit these combinations, has met with much criticism. See prior blog dated September 10, 2013, “Pennsylvania State Representative wants to repeal new gas pooling law.”

 Representative Jesse White (D-Washington) has now introduced House Bill 1700 which would ban the “forced pooling” of natural gas leases. Rep. White refers to forced pooling as “eminent domain for drillers” because it would allow operators … Continue Reading

Methane in water wells in Franklin Township, Pennsylvania not from natural gas drilling activity

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the results of its 16-month investigation into the alleged methane contamination of three private water wells in Franklin Township, Susquehanna County, where the Marcellus Shale formation is being developed by hydraulic fracturing. The DEP tested water from the three water wells and compared it with the chemical make-up of natural gas samples taken from the nearby drilling rigs and also with samples from water wells in the nearby Salt Springs State Park. The testing showed that the methane in the water from the private wells contained a similar isotopic make-up to the … Continue Reading

Scientists rebut study linking hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination


Last year, hydrologic geologist Tom Myers’ conclusion that hydraulic fracturing of deep shale gas wells can be expected to impact shallow groundwater aquifers in less than ten years received much publicity, especially among environmental groups who had funded the work. Myers’ findings appeared in an article entitled, “Potential Contaminant Pathways from Hydraulically Fractured Shale to Aquifers,” which appeared in the November/December 2012 issue of Groundwater, the journal of the National Groundwater Association. In response, a group of scientists from the Pennsylvania Geological Survey and the Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists have published a rebuttal of Myers’ work.

These scientists found … Continue Reading

Flowback fluid recycling regulation in the Marcellus Shale

This is the second article in a series of blog posts evaluating the current status of flowback and produced water recycling regulations in the major shale play states. These waters are generated through the hydraulic fracturing process, and this blog post continues the discussion of the manner in which these waters are disposed.

The Marcellus Shale, the largest in the country by geographic area, extends throughout much of the Appalachian Basin, under Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

However, this post will focus on flowback and produced water recycling regulation in the most active hydraulic fracturing states, … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania’s Proposed Emergency Drinking Water Support Fund

Pennsylvania State Senator Jay Costa (Democrat, Forest Hills) has proposed a bill which would place a $10 surcharge on permits issued by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for hydraulic fracturing activities in the Marcellus Shale.

This surcharge would be transferred to the bill-created Emergency Drinking Water Support Fund.

The fund would be “used for testing of well water” by a DEP approved testing laboratory and the purchasing of clean water for residents and businesses if needed. Residents and businesses who “have reason to believe their well water is contaminated from either an accidental spill of fracking water or … Continue Reading

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