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Showing 19 posts in Drilling.

On June 7, 2017, the Commonwealth Court upheld a zoning ordinance allowing oil and gas drilling in mixed use agricultural and residential areas of a Butler County municipality because the pre-existing zoning code had already allowed construction of what the Court found were substantially similar public utility structures. 

The issues in Delaware Riverkeeper et al. v. Middlesex Township Zoning Hearing Board v. R.E. Gas Development LLC et al., 1229 CD 2015, 1323 CD 2015, 2609 CD 2015, arose out of Middlesex Township’s Ordinance 127, enacted in 2014, which sought to add a “oil and gas well site development” use within a Residential-Agricultural (“R-AG”) District. Environmental groups, the Clean Air Council and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, appealed the Middlesex Township Zoning Hearing Board’s enactment of the ordinance, upheld by the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, which found in part that the added language was a permissible extension of the already existing zoning provisions. Read More »

In a decision issued today in Pa. Independent Oil & Gas Assoc. v. Commonwealth, No. 321 M.D. 2015, a seven-member panel of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court held that Section 3215(c) of Act 13, the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, remains enforceable despite the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in Robinson Township v. Commonwealth, 83 A.3d 901 (Pa. 2013).  Section 3215(c) provides that when making a determination on a proposed oil and gas well, DEP “shall consider” the impact of the proposed well on public resources, including parks, rivers, landmarks, historic sites, flora and fauna habitat, and public drinking water sources.  Read More »

We’ve been following the case of Strudley v. Antero Resources Corp., No. 2011 CV 2218, since May, 2012, when a Colorado trial court dismissed the action following plaintiffs’ failure to establish, pursuant to a Lone Pine order, a prima facie case showing that the defendant, a natural gas drilling company, was responsible for plaintiffs’ personal injuries.  The Lone Pine order required the Strudleys to submit to the Court, before it would allow any discovery, sufficient expert opinions, scientific testing results, and personal medical information to support their claims.  In July, 2013, a Colorado Court of Appeals reversed, finding that Lone Pine orders were not permitted under Colorado law and thus the plaintiffs could not be shut out of the courthouse at such an early stage. Read More »

In November 2009, a group of 44 plaintiffs, including the Ely family, filed suit against Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. for personal injuries and property damages that allegedly resulted from Cabot’s hydraulic fracturing operations in Dimock Township, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. The case is pending in the Middle District of Pennslyvania, captioned as Ely et al. v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., et al., Dkt. No. 3:09-cv-2284 (M.D. Pa.) (J. Carlson). After a number of parties settled out of the lawsuit, Cabot filed a motion for summary judgment on the Elys’ claims for breach of contract and lost royalties on an oil and gas lease, fraudulent inducement, negligence and negligence per se, medical monitoring, and violations of the Pennsylvania Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (“HSCA”).   On Monday, nearly all of the Elys’ claims were dismissed. Read More »

Landowners who find themselves in the path of an oil or gas pipeline quickly learn that their rights are limited, and that a pipeline company granted a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity hold most of the cards.  Thus, the recent decision in Alliance Pipeline, L.P. v. 4,360 Acres of Land, No. 13-1003 (8th Cir. Mar. 24, 2014), which in a mere 10 pages washed aside the landowners challenges Alliance Pipeline’s condemnation action, comes as no surprise.    Read More »

In a precedential decision issued by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Vodenichar v. Halcon Energy Properties, Inc., No. 13-2812 (Aug. 16, 2013), the Court addressed the two exceptions to the Class Action Fairness Act that permits remand to state courts of class action complaints over which the federal courts would otherwise have jurisdiction.  First, the Court provided guidance as to the interpretation of the term “primary defendants” for the purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(4)(B) and, second, held that the “other class action” language of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(4)(A) was not intended to encompass prior actions between the same parties where the procedural history indicates that the second suit was merely a continuation of the prior suit. Read More »

In May, we reported on the case of Strudley v. Antero Resources Corp., No. 2011 CV 2218 (Denver Co. Dist. Court  May 9, 2012), in which a state trial court issued a Lone Pine order requiring the plaintiffs to show, prior to the initiation of discovery, that there was a prima facie basis for associating their personal injury claims with the defendants’ hydraulic fracturing activities.  The court subsequently dismissed the case when the plaintiffs failed, in the court's view, to meet this initial burden.  The dismissal was appealed and in Strudley v. Antero Resources Corp., Court of Appeals No. 12CA1251 (Co. Ct. Appeals, 1st Div., July 3, 2013), reversed.   Read More »

In September of 2011, we first posted about the case of Butler v. Estate of Powers in which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed a Pennsylvania trial court decision holding that, under long-standing precedent, any grant of mineral rights that did not expressly include natural gas similarly did not include shale gas.  The Superior Court disagreed, relying on United States Steel Corp. v. Hoge, 468 A.2d 1380 (Pa. 1983)(Hoge II) which held that the party with the rights to coal also had rights to the coalbed gas contained in the coal.  Instead, the Superior Court remanded the case to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing on, in essence, whether shale gas is similar to coalbed gas and should be treated that way.  At the time we first discussed theButler case, we concluded: Read More »

As a result of increasing development of natural gas drilling, pipelines are popping up everywhere.  And with them has come a mound of litigation.  In a February 5, 2013 decision, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has ruled, as a matter of first impression, that permits issued by a state agency (in this case, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“PADEP”)) under the federal Clean Water Act (the “CWA”) may be challenged only in federal court, and not in a state adjudicatory proceeding. Read More »

Although they’ve been around forever, oil and gas leases continue to provide fodder for the courts, as we’ve discussed before, especially in light of the boom (or temporary bust, as some might argue) of shale gas drilling.  And it is exactly that boom (or bust) that brings us the decision in Beardslee v. Inflection Energy, LLC, No. 3:12-CV-00252 (N.D.N.Y. Nov. 15, 2012). Read More »