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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Wastewater-Induced Earthquakes May Cause Rising Insurance Rates, But Are Costs Recoverable? Tenth Circuit Says No

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently dismissed a putative class action (i.e., an uncertified class), alleging that fracking operations by various natural gas companies in Oklahoma increased the risk of earthquakes in the state, causing property insurance premiums to rise for local residents.

In Meier v. Chesapeake Operating LLC, et. al., residents of Oklahoma claimed that wastewater disposal wells drilled into the Arbuckle formation, a 7,000-foot-deep sedimentary rock layer below the surface, have caused thousands of manmade earthquakes across the state since 2008.  …

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Florida Governor Takes on the Environment

Environmental remediation work is about to pick up steam in Florida. In his first major policy act, recently inaugurated Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a broad executive order last Thursday aimed at tackling numerous water and environmental issues confronting the state. DeSantis, who was inaugurated on January 8, took office facing a number of environmental crises, including unprecedented levels of the red tide bacteria that killed wildlife and closed beaches along the Gulf of Mexico last year; toxic blue-green algae that has choked the St. …

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PA Supreme Court Enforces “Impact Fees” Against Natural Gas Drillers, Defines Scope

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has issued an opinion providing guidance to the natural gas industry regarding the application of “impact fees” associated with hydraulic fracturing.

​In Snyder Brothers, Inc., v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, et. al., the court decided that natural gas drillers whose production from wells exceeds 90,000 cubic feet per day, for even one month of the year, will be required to pay impact fees. The decision overturns Pennsylvania’s intermediary appellate court’s prior decision that allowed drillers to avoid the impact fee …

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Fracking Wastewater Does Not Meet Definition of “Toxic” Under Pennsylvania Law, Appellate Court Says

Pennsylvania’s appellate courts continue to be active in shaping the state’s laws surrounding hydraulic fracturing. Recently, in Protect PT v. Penn Township Zoning Hearing Board and Apex Energy (PA) LLC, the Commonwealth Court affirmed a zoning board’s decision permitting a natural gas company to store large quantities of wastewater from fracking operations at and around multiple drilling sites because it did not meet the definition of “toxic” material, as set forth under local ordinance, among other reasons.

In this decision involving multiple special exception …

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Pennsylvania Legislators in Favor of Fracking, Seek to Join Opposition Against Delaware River Basin Commission’s Moratorium

Earlier in 2017, we reported the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to reinstate a landowner’s challenge to the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the 24 county region, spanning across parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, and New Jersey. In that decision (Wayne Land & Mineral Group LLC v. Del. River Basin Comm’n), the court held that the definition of the word “project,” as set forth in the DRBC’s governing document, the “Compact,” was ambiguous,

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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

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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

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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 speculators Wayne Land and Mineral …

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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 …

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