Archives: Land Use

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2015 ONRR Civil Penalties: Where, Why, and How Much

The Office of Natural Resources Revenue (“ONRR”), a unit within the United States Department of the Interior, is responsible for collecting and disbursing revenues from energy production on federal and Indian lands and offshore on the Outer Continental Shelf.[1] The agency verifies reporting, conducts audits, and enforces laws, regulations, lease terms, and orders.[2] The agency … Continue Reading

D.C. District Court Judge Chastises the Department of the Interior, Ordering It to Deliver a Plan on a BLM Drilling Permit, After a 29-Year Suspension

On July 27, 2015, D.C. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon entered a strongly worded order in Solenex LLC v. Jewell, chastising the defendants, including the Department of the Interior and numerous other federal agencies, for unreasonably delaying action in their review of Solonex LLC’s suspended 1985 drilling permit. Civ. No. 1:13-cv-00993, Doc. No. 52. The … Continue Reading

Independent Producers Lead Legal Challenge Against BLM’s Hydraulic Fracturing Rule

After a regulatory review process lasting more than three years, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued today a final rule purporting to govern hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands. Given BLM’s failure to correct flaws in earlier versions of the rule – flaws that were addressed expressly in public comments responsive to the … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Upholds TERO Requirements in Indian Country Mineral Leasing

Conducting commercial operations on tribal lands can pose significant challenges for non-Indian companies. Demonstrating sensitivity to the cultural nuances of Native American society and navigating the complex web of federal and tribal regulations applicable to Indian Country requires expertise and invariably adds time and costs to projects. Among the more difficult aspects of operating on … Continue Reading

Federal Wolf Program Could Threaten Energy Development in the Permian Basin

The United States Fish & Wildlife Service (“FWS”) has announced an intention to revise the scope of the agency’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, significantly expanding the geographic area within southern Arizona and New Mexico that Mexican wolves will be permitted to occupy. If finalized, FWS’ proposal would open large areas of mineral-rich territory in southeastern … Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Set to Hear Case Involving Subsurface Trespass Claim

Last week, the Texas Supreme Court agreed to hear a suit that could determine whether landowners in the state have a cause of action for trespass when water from underground injection wells migrates onto their property.  The Court’s decision in Environmental Processing Systems LC v. FPL Farming Ltd. No. 12-0905 could prompt oil and gas … Continue Reading

Local Ohio Communities Allied in Defense of Ohio’s Home-Rule, Oil and Gas Showdown To Be Held in Ohio Supreme Court

The litigation over the constitutionality of Ohio’s law R.C.1509.02 granting sole authority to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to regulate activities associated with oil and gas exploration and production has reached the Ohio Supreme Court. On September 6, 2013, the cities of Broadview Heights, Euclid, Mansfield, and North Royalton (the “Amici”) filed an amici … Continue Reading

Environmental Groups Set Stage for Litigation Challenging BLM’s Proposed Hydraulic Fracturing Rulemaking with Claim That BLM Is Violating NEPA

Eighteen environmental organizations – lead by the Sierra Club – are claiming that the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) will violate the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) if it finalizes its proposed rulemaking related to hydraulic fracturing on federal lands without preparing a full-scale Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”). Under NEPA, an EIS is required if the proposed … Continue Reading

Public Comment Period for Proposed Federal Fracking Regulations Draws to a Close

The public comment period for new federal regulations regarding fracking on public lands—the first substantive update to the rules in three decades—ended on Friday with over 1 million submissions from both critics and advocates evaluating the proposed rules. The proposed rules have garnered substantial attention, with demonstrators sporting both pro- and anti-fracking messages turning out … Continue Reading

Adams County Denies Permit For NGL Pipeline

On July 29, 2013, the Adams County Commissioners denied a land-use permit for the proposed Front Range Pipeline, which is a 435 mile natural gas-liquids (“NGLs”) pipeline between Colorado and Texas.  According to the County Commissioners, the permit was denied because the proposed route passes through an area that has been targeted for future development. … Continue Reading

Federal Agency Puts Plan to Lease Mineral Rights in Ohio Forest on Hold

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has temporarily delayed its plans to auction off the mineral rights to over 4,500 acres of property in the Blue Rock State Forest in Muskingum County, Ohio. The decision came just hours after news of the auction went public, catching many observers by surprise, including officials from the … Continue Reading

New York Court Upholds Local Hydraulic Fracturing and Oil and Gas Development Bans

Last Friday, a four judge panel of a New York appeals court upheld two local zoning laws that prohibit activities related to oil and gas exploration and development, including hydraulic fracturing.  The decisions in Norse Energy Corp. USA v. Town of Dryden and Cooperstown Holstein Corp. v. Town of Middlefield mark the first appellate ruling … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Upholds Statewide Oil And Gas Conveyance Rules

In October of 2012 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard oral argument on two key cases that potentially could reshape the laws and rules applicable to hydraulic fracturing in the state.  We wrote extensively about these cases in 2012 and expanded on our analysis in a web interview with LXBN-TV.  Last week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court … Continue Reading

Virginia AG: Localities Cannot Ban Gas Drilling Through Zoning

Continuing on this blog’s ongoing exploration of the intersection of state and local regulation of shale drilling (see last week’s post here, as well as prior posts here and here), several weeks ago Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued an advisory opinion finding that state oil and gas law effectively prevents localities from barring drilling for … Continue Reading

Ohio Court: State Oil And Gas Law Pre-Empts Local Drilling Regulations

The nationwide oil and gas boom has exposed a rift in the relationship between state and local governments seeking to regulate shale drilling and development.  This tension has been playing out in several key shale states – for example, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will soon issue its opinion in the Robinson Township case, which will … Continue Reading

Colorado Raises Minimum Setbacks for Oil and Gas Wells

Last month the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (“COGCC”) held three days of public hearings on a series of proposed updates to its rules governing oil and gas wells.  Among other things, the COGCC adopted new rules requiring drillers of hydraulically fractured wells to test nearby groundwater both before and after drilling — making Colorado … Continue Reading

Colorado Adopts Groundwater and Setback Drilling Rules, Launches Emissions Study

This week the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission conducted three days of public hearings on proposed revisions to its oil and gas well rules to address concerns posed by increased hydraulic fracturing activity.  As part of those hearings, the Commission took several key actions that will affect future shale drilling operations statewide. First, on … Continue Reading

Longmont Sued By Colorado Oil and Gas Association

Last week we reported that the state of Colorado would not directly sue the town of Longmont to challenge the ban on hydraulic fracturing that town voters enacted in the November election.  Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper did note at the time, though, that his administration would “stand ready to support an energy company that does … Continue Reading

Boulder County, Colorado Commissioners Vote to Allow Hydraulic Fracturing

At a meeting of the Boulder County Commission, at which the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office provided security, the Commission voted unanimously to allow hydraulic fracturing in Boulder County.  The Commissioners each acknowledged that their personal preference would be to ban fracking.  But they further acknowledged that the power to regulate below-ground oil and gas activities … Continue Reading

Legislators In Ohio General Assembly Propose Numerous New Shale Bills As Close Of Session Nears

The Ohio General Assembly closes its two-year term later this month.  The waning days of the term, falling between the November election and the end of the year, are known as the “lame-duck” session.  During this session, legislators have introduced a flurry of bills relating to hydraulic fracturing and shale gas drilling.   Many of these … Continue Reading

Colorado Town’s MOUs With Shale Well Operators Address Local Safety Concerns

Yesterday we discussed recent developments in Colorado by which local governments are beginning enact bans on hydraulic fracturing activities, with similar activities occurring in individual towns in Pennsylvania and Ohio.  In contrast, another Colorado town (Erie, a town of about 20,000 people that is roughly equidistant from Denver and Boulder) has taken a somewhat novel approach to addressing … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Appellate Court Bars PUC From Withholding Impact Fees

In our post on Thursday we covered the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s decision to withhold impact fees from localities with ordinances or rules limiting hydraulic fracturing.  In that post we noted that certain plaintiffs in the Robinson Township case requested an order from a state appellate court blocking that decision.  On Friday, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania PUC Withholds Township’s Impact Fees Due To Local Drilling Ordinances

Last week the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) issued the first of what could be numerous rulings denying a township its share of impact fees from shale drilling because its local land use ordinances overly regulated drilling.  Specifically, the PUC found in its October 18 order that the township of South Fayette’s ordinances were preempted by existing state environmental … Continue Reading