Archives: Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania Jury Awards $4.2 Million in Groundwater Contamination Case

On Thursday, a federal jury in Pennsylvania ordered Cabot Oil & Gas to pay more than $4.2 million in damages to two Pennsylvania families who sued in 2009 alleging that the Texas-based company’s drilling operations contaminated local groundwater. The long-running dispute – which originally featured more than 40 plaintiffs before most settled their claims – … Continue Reading

EQT’s Lengthy Battle With the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Gets Its Day in State Supreme Court

On November 17, 2015, Pittsburgh-based energy company EQT Production Co. (“EQT”) presented its oral argument before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, requesting it set aside a February 20, 2015, ruling of Commonwealth Court Judge Rochelle S. Friedman. Specifically, she had held EQT could not bypass the state’s administrative Environmental Hearing Board (“EHB”) stage in its efforts … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Township Moves to Revive an Ordinance Banning Disposal of Wastewater from Hydraulic Fracturing Activities, After Federal Court Ruling Invalidated It

On October 26, 2015, Grant Township, Pennsylvania, filed a Motion for Reconsideration of  Western District of Pennsylvania District Court Magistrate Judge Susan Baxter’s October 14, 2015, ruling invalidating several elements of the township’s ordinance (the “Ordinance”). On June 3, 2014, Grant Township adopted the Ordinance, which attempted to establish a “Community Bill of Rights for … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Court Holds Oil and Gas Reservations Do Not Terminate Upon Expiration of Lease

On Friday, October 9, 2015, a three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that a reservation of oil, gas and mineral rights in a deed does not terminate merely because the lease under which those rights were previously leased has expired. Rather, specific language is required in order to release oil, gas and mineral … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Appeals Court Reverses Lower Court Decision and Allows a Natural Gas Well Project to Proceed in a Residential Neighborhood

On September 9, 2015, Judge Mary Leavitt of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania reversed the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County’s ruling, which had set aside the Board of Supervisors of Fairfield Township’s (the “Board”) grant of a conditional use permit to Inflection Energy LLC for the construction and operation of a natural gas … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Bill Promotes Using Mine Water in Hydraulic Fracturing Operations

Authored by: Anthony Ponikvar, 2015 Summer Associate The process of hydraulic fracturing requires millions of gallons of water. Currently, much of this water is pulled from freshwater sources; however, a recent bill in Pennsylvania making its way through the state legislature aims to change that. Senate Bill 875, authored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Greene, Washington), … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms That Pennsylvania Law Does Not Recognize Automatic “Equitable Extensions” of Oil and Gas Leases Based Solely on the Premise That a Lessor’s Attempt to Legally Invalidate the Lease Constitutes a Repudiation

On June 25, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania’s prior entry of summary judgment in favor of the lessor plaintiffs on the counterclaims of the lessee defendant, Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation. Harrison v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., No. … Continue Reading

District Court Rejects Claim to Aggregate Series of Compressor Stations

A federal judge in Pennsylvania recently denied an environmental group’s attempt to subject a driller’s gas compressor stations to stricter regulatory permitting. This decision provides reliable guidance for drillers on the Marcellus Shale Formation in Pennsylvania. On February 23, 2015, Judge Mariani of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania denied Citizens … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Governor Reinstates Ban on Oil and Gas Leasing in State Parks and Forests

On Thursday, January 29, 2015, Pennsylvania’s new governor, Tom Wolf, signed Executive Order 2015-03, thereby reinstating a moratorium on new leases for oil and gas development in state parks and forests. Wolf’s moratorium restores a ban instituted by Governor Ed Rendell just prior to his leaving office in 2010. Republican Governor Tom Corbett had lifted … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Appeals Act 13 Ruling to State Supreme Court

The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PPUC) is asking the state Supreme Court to review a July ruling by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court that strips PPUC of its authority to review and approve local drilling ordinances. Specifically, PPUC is appealing the Commonwealth Court’s rejection of PPUC’s right to withhold “impact fees” imposed under Pennsylvania’s oil and … Continue Reading

Oil and Gas Developer Challenges an Extreme Waste Disposal Ordinance Enacted by a Pennsylvania Township

Oil and gas developer Pennsylvania General Energy Company, LLC (“PGE”) recently filed suit against Grant Township in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, alleging that a waste disposal ordinance enacted by the Township violates the United States Constitution and Pennsylvania statutes.  The nationwide oil and gas boom has given rise to disputes similar to this all over the … Continue Reading

Shots Fired: PA Auditor General Releases Oil and Gas Audit

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s Office released a report criticizing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for failing to adequately track and respond to public complaints concerning water quality related to natural gas development. Auditors cited deficiencies in eight key areas, including record-keeping, oversight of drilling waste and gas well inspections, and communication with … Continue Reading

Ohio Tremors Cause Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to Contemplate New Fracking Regulations

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is considering regulating drilling near “seismic hazard areas” after geologists linked a series of small earthquakes in Ohio to fracking at a Utica Shale well. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the DEP is beginning a “massive data-mining project” to determine whether the regulations are necessary. In April, state … Continue Reading

Debates Continue on Pennsylvania and Ohio Severance Tax Proposals

Pennsylvania legislators continue to debate a severance tax proposal announced late last year, and previously discussed on this blog.  Under that severance tax proposal, the commonwealth’s system of impact fees would be replaced with a 4.9% severance tax.  A bipartisan group of legislators announced that proposal, and it appears that support for a severance tax … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Governor Asks Supreme Court to Reconsider Decision Striking Down Act 13

Governor Tom Corbett is asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to reconsider its December 19, 2013 decision striking down key provisions of Act 13—a bill aimed at regulation of drilling activity in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale deposit. As we wrote here last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the 2012 law by a 4-3 vote, with … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Strikes Down Act 13

Last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down a state law that required municipalities to permit oil and gas drilling in all zoning districts, including those designated exclusively for residential use.  In a 4 to 2 decision, the court determined that Act 13, which prohibited cities and towns from banning fracking projects within their borders, … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Legislators Propose Gas Drilling Tax

A bipartisan group of Pennsylvania state legislators have proposed a law that would require energy developers to pay a 4.9% severance tax on natural gas produced within the commonwealth.  As proposed, the law would tax the actual value of any extracted natural gas resources.  This new scheme is intended to supplant the current system of … Continue Reading

Severance Tax Debate Continues

Through the summer and leading up to the adoption of Ohio’s biennial budget, changes to Ohio’s severance tax were discussed in the General Assembly and in the media.  Severance tax provisions were cut from discussions fairly early in the budget process, and the budget became law without any change to the severance tax.  Still, those … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Drillers May Soon Face Tightened Environmental Regulations

Oil and gas drillers in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation may soon find themselves subject to more stringent environmental protection standards under regulations proposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“the Department”).  The Department announced on August 27, 2013 that the proposed regulations were approved by the state’s Environmental Quality Board.  The proposal now moves … Continue Reading

Federal Government Study Confirms Hydraulic Fracturing Does Not Contaminate Drinking Water

            The Department of Energy (“DOE”), after a year-long study at a western Pennsylvania drilling site, has concluded that there is no evidence that chemicals used during the hydraulic fracturing process have contaminated drinking water aquifers adjacent to the drilling site.  According to DOE geologist Richard Hammack, the study found that hydraulic fracturing fluids remained … 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

Industry, Environmentalists Agree On Voluntary Hydraulic Fracturing Standards

Yesterday a consortium of energy companies, environmental organizations, and philanthropic foundations announced that they have collaborated to form an organization — the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) — that will provide an independent, third-party certification process for shale developers.  The CSSD is expected to focus on certifying operations in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions, chiefly … Continue Reading

BakerHostetler Shale Symposium: Political and Policy Trends in 2013

On Thursday, March 7, BakerHostetler’s Shale Team will host a panel discussion on political and policy trends related to shale development at The Houstonian Hotel.  Michael G. Oxley — former Congressman and Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, former member of the Energy House Committee and co-author of the landmark Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 — will moderate … Continue Reading
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