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Showing 8 posts in Mineral Rights.

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board issued an important decision that provides guidance on how to apply Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution (“Environmental Rights Amendment” or “ERA”) in the context of a permitting decision in light of the Pa. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Pa. Environmental Defense Found. v. Commonwealth, No. 10 MAP 2015 (Pa. June 20, 2017) (“PEDF”).  See Center for Coalfield Justice v. DEP, EHB Docket No. 2014-072-B (Adjudication issued Aug. 15, 2017).   Read More »

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 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 »

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 »

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 »

On September 7, 2011, the Pennsylvania Superior Court issued its decision in Butler v. Estate of Powers, 2011 Pa Super 198, sending the case back to the trial court to decide, in short, who owns the natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation — the owner of the mineral rights, or the owner of the oil and gas rights. Read More »

Last fall we wrote about the decision in Butler v. Estate of Powers in which the Pennsylvania Superior Court appeared to overturn more than 100 years of case law to cast doubt on whether the natural gas found in shale is a “mineral” for purposes of deed interpretation.  We called it a “Case to Watch,” and it looks like we were right because earlier this month the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. Read More »