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Showing 12 posts in Exploration.

On July 19, 2017, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the United States, as the title owner of a former mine, was a Potentially Responsible Party (PRP) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), despite the fact that it did not have a possessory interest in the property at the time of the disposal of hazardous substances.  The opinion in Chevron Mining Inc. v. United States, No. 15-2209, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12959, at *1 (10th Cir. July 19, 2017) thus appears to put to rest a defense often asserted, primarily by governmental entities, that “bare legal title” is insufficient for CERCLA liability to attach and instead that some other and additional “indicia of ownership” is required. Read More »

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 »

Earlier this month, the Colorado Supreme Court invalidated two municipalities’ bans on hydraulic fracturing, holding that the local ordinances instituting the bans were preempted by state law.  In City of Longmont v. Colorado Oil and Gas Association, No. 15SC667 (May 2, 2016), the Court held that an indefinite ban on fracking activity was preempted by the state’s Oil and Gas Act, which generally provides that fracking is permitted and supported in the state.  Similarly, in City of Fort Collins v. Colorado Oil and Gas Association, No. 15SC668 (May 2, 2016), the Court held that a local ordinance instituting a five-year moratorium on fracking that was slated to expire in 2018 was likewise preempted. 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 »

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 »

Some may be surprised to learn that the storage and production of natural gas do not always complement one another.  A conflict can occur when one gas company stores its gas by injecting it back into the ground, typically into a depleted gas field.  So long as gas pressure can be maintained underground, the depleted field provides a natural reservoir for storing gas.  If areas of low pressure are created near the storage area, the stored gas tends to migrate toward these areas. The drilling for and extraction of natural gas can create such low pressure zones.  Effectively, production activities near an underground storage area suck the gas away from where it is being stored. Read More »

The Delaware River Basin Commission (“DRBC”) was created with the approval of Congress in 1961 through the Delaware River Basin Compact, an agreement between the New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the federal government for planning, conservation, utilization, development, management and control of the water resources of the Delaware River Basin (the “Basin”).  In June, 2010, the DRBC placed  a moratorium on natural gas development in the Basin, which includes areas within the Marcellus Shale formation, pending the adoption of regulations governing such development.  Draft regulations were published for comment in 2010, and revised draft regulations were published in November, 2011.  However, they have not yet been adopted by the DRBC, leaving the moratorium in place. Read More »

In April, we reported on an Arkansas Supreme Court case which held that, at least as of 1934, the term “mineral rights” included oil and gas as a matter of law.  But what about deeds of an older vintage?  Last week, the Arkansas Supreme Court, inNicholson v. Upland Industrial Development Co., 2012 Ark. 326 (Sept. 13, 2012), ruled that a 1903 deed reserving “mineral rights” included oil and gas rights because at the time of the deed and in the general region where the deed was executed, that was the common understanding.  In other words, the per se rule announced in Staggs v, Union Pacific RR Co.* did not apply. Read More »

One of the very first things I was told by the senior partner when I started practicing law was that there isn’t an honest mistake that can’t be fixed, except blowing the statute of limitations. As a result, my calendar has limitations periods blocked out weeks, months and in some cases years in advance, and if there’s ever a question of when it runs, I use the earliest date. The Tenth Circuit’s decision in Impact Energy Resources, LLC v. Salazar, Nos. 11-4043 & 11-4057 (Sept. 5, 2012 10th Cir.), is a cautionary tale to those who may not be as conservative. Read More »