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Showing 22 posts in Marcellus Shale.

In December of 2013, in Robinson Township v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 83 A.3d 901 (Pa. 2013) (“Robinson II”), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, among other things, struck down as unconstitutional provisions of the 2012 amendments to Pennsylvania’s Oil and Gas Act, also referred to as Act 13 regarding statewide zoning laws and municipalities’ abilities to enact ordinances affecting the oil and gas industry.  On Wednesday September 28th, in Robinson's second round before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (Robinson IV), the Court invalidated additional provisions of Act.

The remand of Robinson II to the Commonwealth Court required the lower court to determine whether or not certain provisions of the Act regarding the review of municipal ordinances affecting oil and gas operations were severable from the Act 13 provisions that were found unconstitutional.  The remand also required the Commonwealth Court to determine; (a) whether two other Act 13 sections, one related to the disclosure of hydraulic fracturing chemical trade secrets to health professionals and the other related to the scope of PADEP notification requirements after spills, violated Article III, Section 32 (no “special laws”) or Article III, Section 3 (the “single subject rule”) of the Pennsylvania Constitution; and (b) whether another Act 13 section regarding the use of eminent domain for gas storage violated the 5th amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 10 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The case before the Supreme Court was an appeal to the Commonwealth Court’s ruling on these issues. 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 »

On Friday, the Pennsylvania Superior Court issued a non-precedential opinion that affirmed a trial court’s order denying objections filed by natural gas drilling company, Range Resources-Appalachia, LLC, to a subpoena issued to one of its engineering consultants, URS Corp. The case, Haney v. Range Resources-Appalachia, LLC, et al., No. 2012-3534, involves personal injury and property damage claims filed by a group of residents that live near Range’s Yeager natural gas drilling site in Washington County, Pennsylvania.   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 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 »

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 »

On Tuesday, in Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future v. Ultra Resources, Inc.No. 4:11-CV-1360 (M.D.PA. Sept. 24, 2012) — a case watched closely by natural gas stakeholders in Pennsylvania — Judge Mariani of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania refused to dismiss a citizen suit brought by an environmental group challenging the validity of state air permits issued to the operator of a series of natural gas compressor stations, potentially opening the door for similar Federal court challenges to air permits previously issued by state regulators in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.  Approximately three years ago, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“PADEP”) issued separate authorizations for Ultra Resources, Inc. (“Ultra”) to construct seven compressor stations pursuant to a state general permit generally known as “GP-5.”  In issuing these authorizations, PADEP considered each of the compressor stations as a separate “facility.” If PADEP had considered the compressor stations to be a single “major” facility, then Ultra would have been required to obtain a more stringent non-attainment new source review (“NNSR”) permit before commencing construction. Read More »