Hydraulic Fracturing Update: PA Appellate Court Permits Enforcement of $1 Million Dollar Penalty Upon Fracking Operator

Recently, a Pennsylvania Appellate Court decided to permit the enforcement of a monetary penalty levied upon a driller, totaling over $1.1 million, stemming from the delay of maintenance to leaks in a damaged liner of an impoundment used to contain wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations.    ​In EQT Production Company v. Department of Environmental Protection, Docket # 844 CD 2017, a driller challenged the extent of a monetary assessment against it by Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Hearing
Continue reading...

Pennsylvania Appellate Court Shapes Public Notification Requirements for Hydraulic Fracking Operations

Previously, we reported the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in Marcellus Shale Coalition v. Department of Environmental Protection, et. al., where the court decided to preserve an injunction against the Department of Environmental Protection of Pennsylvania (DEP) to prevent the enforcement of various new rules pertaining to hydraulic fracturing operations. However, one of DEP’s proposed rules that the PA Supreme Court did not address was the public notification requirement, which, as we predicted, would be scrutinized by the lower courts. In the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’s most recent decision related to challenges by the Marcellus Shale Coalition, some of DEP’s proposed public notice requirements were upheld; however, the court also
Continue reading...

Appeals Court Leaves Potential for Hydraulic Fracturing Revival in the Delaware River Basin

Earlier this month, the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit issued a decision that leaves a glimmer of hope for hydraulic fracturing entrepreneurs in the Delaware River Basin, which encompasses portions of 24 counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware. On July 3, a three judge panel issued an opinion on their review of a Pennsylvania federal court’s decision to grant a motion to dismiss a case for declaratory relief brought by oil and gas
Continue reading...

New York Federal Court Rejects Landowner’s Claimed Right to Drill, But Will Challenges Continue?

A federal court in New York recently dismissed a landowner’s claim that the state’s ban on hydraulic fracturing violated the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment and due process rights. In Morabito v. The State of New York, et. al., the plaintiffs filed a complaint in the Western District of New York, asserting that the state’s decision to prohibit high-volume fracking activities constituted a regulatory taking and/or arbitrary and irrational restriction on plaintiff’s property rights. The plaintiffs, who are farmers, own various properties in western New York atop
Continue reading...

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Sides With Gas Industry, But Allows For Potential Enforcement of Two New Rules

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently decided to preserve an injunction against the Department of Environmental Protection of Pennsylvania (DEP) that prevents the enforcement of various new rules pertaining to hydraulic fracturing operations. In the case of The Marcellus Shale Coalition v. Department of Environmental Protection, et. al., industry organization, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), had sought a preliminary injunction, challenging the validity of several regulations relating to unconventional gas well operations (which includes hydraulic fracturing, as opposed to traditional oil
Continue reading...

Landmark Ruling: Trespass Claims Against Fracking Companies Proceed as Pennsylvania Recognizes Property Rights to Natural Gas

Recently, the Pennsylvania Superior Court — PA’s appellate court — published its opinion in Briggs v. Southwestern Energy Production, potentially altering the landscape of hydraulic fracturing litigation in Pennsylvania. The intermediary appellate court’s decision centered on the interpretation of Pennsylvania’s rule of capture, which allows companies to drain a natural resource, including oil, gas, or water, from beneath property they do not own so long as they do not trespass on the surface level of the land. In its ruling, the Superior Court noted that the rule
Continue reading...

Power Struggle: A State’s Constitution Being Used to Oppose Hydraulic Fracturing

In June 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its decision in PA Environmental Defense Foundation v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et. al, (PEDF) establishing a broad interpretation of PA’s Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA), which is found in the Commonwealth’s Constitution. Some folks in PA might not know this, but it’s one of only a few states in the nation to recognize having clean air and water as a basic civil right for its citizens. The case, brought by the Pennsylvania Environmental
Continue reading...

Calls for Stronger Ban of Fracking Wastewater at Delaware River Basin Commission Hearings

As a follow up to our recent December post, public hearings were held in Pennsylvania last month on the Delaware River Basin Commission’s 2017 resolution that could lead to a permanent ban on hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River watershed — a region that includes 24 counties in portions of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Currently, there’s a moratorium in place that has halted fracking activities in the Basin since 2010. Some property owners in the affected region
Continue reading...

Shale Watch Alert — Delaware River Basin Commission Moves Toward Hydraulic Fracturing Ban

While the Trump administration has ushered in an era of deregulation on the environmental front, including proposals to repeal Obama-era standards governing hydraulic fracturing on government land, the Delaware River Basin Commission (the Commission) recently made headway in the other direction. On November 30, 2017, the Commission approved a resolution that could lead to a ban on hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River watershed —a region that includes 24 counties in portions of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
Continue reading...

The Delaware River Basin Commission Moves Toward Fracking Ban

While the Trump administration has ushered in an era of deregulation on the environmental front, including proposals to repeal Obama era standards governing hydraulic fracturing on government land, the Delaware River Basin Commission (the DRBC) recently made headway in the other direction. On November 30, 2017, the DRBC approved a resolution that could lead to a ban on hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River watershed, a region that includes 24 counties in portions of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and
Continue reading...