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Oil and Gas Update

Permitting/Regulating Issues

INJUNCTION ISSUED BY MONTANA COURT APPEARS TO PROHIBIT U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS FROM AUTHORIZING ANY UTILITY LINE ACTIVITIES UNDER NATIONWIDE PERMIT 12 UNTIL COMPLETION OF ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT REVIEW

In a case challenging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, a federal district court in Montana issued a sweeping injunction last week that, on its face, seems to prohibit the Corps from approving any activities under its Nationwide Permit 12 (“NWP 12”), which authorizes discharges of dredged or fill material associated with utility line activities, until it…

Federal Court Rejects Use of Virginia County Flood Ordinance to Limit Natural Gas Pipeline Construction

A federal court in Virginia has ruled that a county’s attempt to impede an interstate gas pipeline with a floodplain ordinance is preempted by the federal Natural Gas Act.  See Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC v. Nelson County Board of Supervisors, No. 3:18-00115 (W.D. Va. March 9, 2020).

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (“ACP”) holds a certificate from FERC under the Natural Gas Act to construct and operate…

West Virginia Enhances Penalties for Trespass and Damages to Critical Infrastructure

The West Virginia Legislature has adopted a West Virginia Critical Infrastructure Protection Act. See W. Va. Code §61-10-34 (copy available at https://legiscan.com/WV/text/HB4615/2020). The new Act establishes three categories of criminal actions concerning “critical infrastructure”.

  1. Trespass: It is a misdemeanor to “willfully and knowingly … enter[] property containing a critical infrastructure…

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Affirms Application of Rule of Capture to Hydraulic Fracturing

On January 22, 2020, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reached a long-awaited decision regarding hydraulic fracturing and affirming the principle known as the “rule of capture.” In Briggs v. Southwestern Energy Production Company, the Supreme Court concluded that the rule of capture is applicable where hydraulic fracturing is utilized, and that said use, absent evidence of physical invasion, is…

Federal Court Upholds Constitutionality of Ohio's Forced Unitization Law - R.C. 1509.28

In Kerns v. Chesapeake Exploration, LLC., N.D.Ohio No. 5:18 CV 389, 2018 WL 2952662,  the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio held that unitization pursuant to R.C. 1509.28, Ohio’s “forced unitization” statute, did not constitute a taking under the Fifth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, or 42 U.S.C. § 1983.  In Kerns, landowners filed suit against Chesapeake…

PA Supreme Court Rejects PADEP's Theory of Limitless Civil Penalties for "Continuing Violation" of Clean Streams Law

We have previously written about a declaratory judgment action filed by a natural gas producer against the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“PADEP”) challenging the agency’s interpretation of Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law. In that proceeding, the gas producer sought pre-enforcement judicial review of PADEP’s legal interpretation of what constitutes a “continuing violation”…

Supreme Court of Ohio Declines to Recognize Implied Covenant to Explore Further

In Alford v. Collins-McGregor Operating Co., 2018-Ohio-8, the Supreme Court of Ohio decided that Ohio does not recognize an implied covenant to explore further, separate and apart from the implied covenant of reasonable development. In Alford, the Appellants were landowners and lessors of an oil and gas lease with Appellees. The lease was held by the production of a single well drilled to the…

Sixth Circuit stays NEXUS pipeline construction in Green, Ohio pending review of Ohio EPA’s CWA §401 certification

On November 22, 2017, in one of many ongoing challenges to pipeline construction, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (“Sixth Circuit”), in a 2-1 decision, granted an emergency stay of pipeline construction within the city of Green, Ohio (“Green”) pending a decision on the merits of Green’s petition seeking review of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) §401…

FERC Sidesteps New York’s Denial of CWA §401 Certification Giving Go-Ahead to Millennium Pipeline Company Spur

For any company desiring to construct a natural gas pipeline, all roads lead to FERC.” Millennium Pipeline Company, L.L.C. v. Seggos, 860 F.3d 696, 698 (D.C. Cir. 2017).

In a significant and already controversial decision issued in mid-September, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) granted approval for Millennium Pipeline Company L.L.C. (“Millennium”)…

One Project, Many Lawsuits

On August 23rd, the federal Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed a decision by the Corps of Engineers to issue a Clean Water Act §404 permit to Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company to construct about 13 miles of “looped” pipeline in two counties in northeastern Pennsylvania (read the JK Energy & Environmental Monitor summary of Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. U.S. Army Corps of…

Sierra Club Links Up with Libertarian Landowners in Continued Opposition to Gas Development

Opponents of natural gas development do not have the resources to challenge individual well permits in the Marcellus and related shale gas basins. Instead, they understand that the future of the industry depends on assembling the rights to draw gas from fractionated ownership and on the ability to attract higher prices by building transmission pipelines to carry the gas to new markets.  So, the…

 

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