Pennsylvania Supreme Court Restores “Rule of Capture” to Hydraulic Fracturing, But Trespass Claims Could Continue

In a split 3-2 decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided that the centuries-old rule of capture applies to hydraulic fracturing operations within the commonwealth, ending multi-year litigation where this critical concept received widespread scrutiny across the energy industry. See Briggs v. Southwestern Energy Production Co. This decision overturns Pennsylvania’s intermediary appellate court’s ruling, which had rejected the application of the rule of capture to fracking, as we reported.  

​Pennsylvania’s rule of capture allows drillers to drain a natural resource, including oil, gas, or water, from beneath property they do not own so long as …

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EPA Releases Guidelines For PFAS in Groundwater

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued Interim Recommendations for addressing groundwater contaminated with Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) under federal cleanup programs. These recommendations represent the first federal guidance for mitigating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in groundwater.

After reviewing public comments solicited in April 2019, EPA made these interim recommendations based upon the data and scientific information it collected on PFAS’ toxicity, while specifically acknowledging that the scientific information on these compounds continues to evolve. Specifically, EPA recommends:

  • Using a screening
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Pennsylvania Launches $4 Million Investigation Into Whether Fracking Causes Rare Form of Cancer in Children

Throughout the past decade, the human health effects that may be caused by hydraulic fracturing have been widely scrutinized by a variety of individuals, institutions, and experts. Allegations of health problems ranging from respiratory complications, birth defects, blood disorders, cancers, nervous system issues, and other ailments have attempted to be linked to fracking operations in some capacity, many with a low degree of scientific certainty. In response to public outcry concerning a unique situation unfolding in western Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced that his …

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New Jersey’s First Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal Seeks Approval Amidst Claims of Environmental Threats

Earlier this year, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) approved a permit for construction of the state’s first ever liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal at the site of a former chemical plant along the Delaware River in southern New Jersey. Environmental groups have now challenged the issuance of that permit, bringing additional public scrutiny and attention to this large-scale and controversial energy initiative.

The liquefaction process of natural gas consists of lowering its temperature to approximately negative 260 degrees Fahrenheit. It is then …

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Next-Gen Nuclear Gaining Steam as Green Power Alternative with Governmental Partnerships

In early October 2019, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) executed a memorandum of understanding to share technical resources and expertise to accelerate the development and implementation of advanced nuclear technologies. Under the agreement, the DOE would run a National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) with a goal of funneling private sector funds to the testing and validation of reactor concepts, and would assist potential providers of advanced nuclear technology with guidance through relevant regulatory processes. The …

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Third Circuit Court of Appeals Delivers Knockout Punch to PennEast Natural Gas Pipeline, Eminent Domain Squashed

Previously, we reported that that the United States District Courts for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and the District of New Jersey granted a consortium of natural gas companies the right of eminent domain to take steps toward building the PennEast pipeline to connect natural gas sources in Pennsylvania to parts of New Jersey. We then reported that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay to temporarily stop any physical construction from beginning on the pipeline in New Jersey until the appeal was decided. 

​Now, in the next …

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Ohio PFAS Class Action Survives Motions to Dismiss

A federal court in the Southern District of Ohio denied the defendants’ 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2), and 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss in a PFAS class action lawsuit in early October 2019. The lawsuit brought by lead plaintiff Kevin Hardwick, a firefighter and alleged user of PFAS-containing firefighting foams, paves the way for a case with enormous breadth to proceed. Hardwick sued 3M Company , E.I du Pont de Nemours and Company, the Chemours Company, Archroma Management LLC, Arkema, Inc., Arkema France, S.A., Diakin Industries Ltd. , Daikin America, …

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PFAS Companies Take Heat From Congress

Last week, the House Environmental Oversight Committee held a third and final hearing on PFAS issues in the United States. The September 10 2019, hearing, which focused on PFAS contamination by industrial producers, served as a follow-up to the subcommittee’s July 24, 2019 hearing on the human impact of PFAS contamination and state-level efforts to regulate the chemicals. DuPont, its spinoff company Chemours, and 3M all sent representatives to Washington D.C. to attend.

In anticipation of the hearing, DuPont issued a press release defining their …

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Natural Gas Pipeline One Step Closer to Reality For Residents of New York

The United States Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) has issued an order holding that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) waived its authority under the Clean Water Act to issue or deny a water quality certification for the proposed Constitution Natural Gas Pipeline because DEC failed to act in a timely manner.

Entities proposing to construct interstate natural gas pipelines are subject to a multitude of state and federal permitting regulations and statutes. One such requirement, as scrutinized and decided by FERC in …

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Pennsylvania Appellate Court Splits the Difference on Oil & Gas Regulations

As hydraulic fracturing continues to be a hot topic among Pennsylvania’s Appellate Courts, the Commonwealth Court (PA’s intermediary appellate division), recently released an opinion addressing a multitude of state-level regulations concerning oil and gas operations, helping to define the rules by which drillers must abide within the state.

At issue in Marcellus Shale Coalition v. Department of Environmental Protection of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, were several provisions within Chapter 78(a) of the Pennsylvania Code, which governs unconventional oil and gas well operations. Roughly three years …

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