Locality Challenges US Army Corps of Engineers’ Permit Process

According to reports, another lawsuit has been filed in Louisiana by a locality seeking to stop fracking within its boarders.  This time, the United States Corps of Engineers has been sued in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana for its permit approval of hydraulic fracturing activity in wetlands.  The Town of Abita Springs claims that the Corps did not follow requisite protocol prior to issuing a permit, such as a public hearing.  The permit allows an energy company the opportunity to perform vertical well drilling near Interstate 12 on an approximately 3 acre area of wetlands.  The aforementioned suit follows from two recent lawsuits commenced by the Town of Abita Springs and the nearby St. Tammany Parish.  In both of those cases, the localities challenge the state government’s approval of ...
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Hydraulic Fracturing Banned in New York

banfrackingb1smjpeg New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that he will prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing within the shale-rich state. The decision comes after years of debate and behind-the-scenes health studies. Health commissioner Howard Zucker reportedly said that he “cannot support” the practice and Governor Cuomo noted those statements are what led to his decision to ban fracking. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Governor said, “I don’t think I even have a role here.” It is unclear whether the decision can be overturned by future administrations. Hydraulic fracturing has been approved in many states, including North Dakota, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Opponents of the practice have been extremely vocal, particularly related to potential risk of water contamination. Supporters cite the economic and national security benefits of the practice and believe ...
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Jury “Earthquake” Discussions Did Not Warrant New Trial

608px-US-CourtOfAppeals-8thCircuit-Seal The Eight Circuit, in a case involving a determination regarding the amount of damages to property owners purportedly caused by vibrations from drilling operations, has refused to order a new trial arising out of an energy company’s challenge to a jury verdict against it where the jurors discussed “fracking” and “earthquakes” even though there was no evidence at trial regarding those activities. Specifically, during jury deliberations in Ruby Hiser v. XTO Energy, 768 F.3d 773 (8th Cir. 2014), the jury inquired of the court: “Were they drilling only or were they also fracking? The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff. On a motion to vacate the verdict, the Court’s hearing probed into extent to which the jurors discussed “fracking” and “earthquakes” in their deliberations. One juror admitted that he “asked whether [the defendant] fracked the well ...
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This Week’s Top Stories In Hydraulic Fracturing Law

Colorado court refuses to issue stay related to Court’s prior decision invalidating local fracking ban. Illinois landowners join lawsuit against the state regarding fracking permit delays. University of Colorado study indicates frac fluid contains materials that are common household substances North Carolina commission meets to finalize hydraulic fracturing regulations.
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Texas Lawsuit Commenced Over City Ordinance Ban

The issue of whether a municipality has the power to outright ban hydraulic fracturing has presented itself in the State of Texas.   On November 4, 2014, votors passed an ordinance that banned hydraulic fracturing in the City of Denton.   The municipality sits atop the Barnett Shale.    The ordinance provides, in pertenant part, as follows: It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in hydraulic fracturing within the corporate limits of the City…  The violation of or noncompliance with this article by any person, firm, association of persons, company, corporation, or their agents, servants, or employees shall be punishable as a misdemeanor and upon conviction, such person, firm, association, company, corporation or their agents, servants or employees shall be fined a sum not less than one dollar ($1.00) but shall not ...
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