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 …

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