Jury “Earthquake” Discussions Did Not Warrant New Trial

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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Cuomo Delays Fracking Decision Until After Election

In May 2013, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told the Syracuse Post-Standard that he intended to make a decision on whether to support fracking in New York State before the November 2014 gubernatorial election.  Now that the election is only a few short weeks ago, Governor Cuomo has backed off that time line stating that he will make the decision after state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker and Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens have concluded their studies, which should be by the end of the year. This announcement comes six months after the resignation of then-Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah, which Cuomo said would not delay the joint review being conducted by the DOH and Department of Environmental Conservation.
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Department of Energy Study Finds No Contamination Associated With Marcellus Frac Wells

The Department of Energy  released a study that, in short, concludes that there is no link between hydraulic fracking in the Marcellus Shale and groundwater contamination.  The DOE, which was given access by the industry to monitor multiple sites, monitored situes both during and after  the fracking process.  It discovered that the chemicals used to free gas remained 5,000 feet below any drinking water supplies.   The DOE indicated that the frac fluids remained approximately one mile below drinking water.   DOE researchers used “tracers” and monitored the frac fluids injection in order to determine whether the fluids permeated to or near the surface.  The government study touts that it was independent: The work was conducted via collaboration between government, in-dustry, and academia, in order to provide an unbiased, science-based source of information with which future ...
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