Monday, August 13, 2018

Shale Law Weekly Review - August 13, 2018


Written by:
Brennan Weintraub - Research Assistant
Jackie Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator

The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.

Pipelines: Work Stoppage Ordered for Mountain Valley Pipeline
On August 3, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order to stop all construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which is proposed to carry natural gas on a 303-mile route through West Virginia and Virginia. The order follows a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that revoked the pipeline’s construction permit for a three-mile stretch through a national forest. FERC stated in the order that, while it was likely that the pipeline eventually would be given permission to continue construction, it was not clear when the approval would be given and whether it will be necessary to use alternate routes.

Public Lands: Federal Judge Gives BLM Deadline for Study on Mineral Lease Impacts
On July 31, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana issued an order to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to complete its assessment of the effects of oil, gas, and coal leases on climate change by November 29, 2019 (Western Organization of Resource Councils, et al., v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, CV 16-21-GF-BMM). Specifically, the order requires BLM to update their resource management plans for Buffalo, Wyoming and Miles City, Montana. The order follows a ruling by the same court in March of 2018 finding that the agency had not sufficiently considered climate change in its decisions under the National Environmental Policy Act. The March order required that all new or pending leases within the planning areas undergo comprehensive environmental analysis.

Pipelines: Fourth Circuit Revokes Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipeline to Cross Blue Ridge Parkway
On August 6, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a ruling revoking the right-of-way that had been granted to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to build under the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic roadway that runs along the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina (Sierra Club v. U.S. Department of the Interior, No. 18-1082). The plaintiffs successfully argued that the issuing agency, the National Park Service, did not have the authority to grant the right-of-way.

Pipelines: FERC Overrules New York Permit Denial for Northern Access Pipeline
On August 6, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reversed the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) decision denying a permit to the Northern Access Pipeline. The proposed pipeline, which would carry natural gas from northern Pennsylvania to upstate New York, was denied a permit by the New York DEC in April of 2017 after conducting a review lasting thirteen months. FERC’s order found that this was in violation of the Clean Water Act, which requires states to conduct such reviews within one year.

Public Lands: BLM Announces Study of Hydraulic Fracturing Effects on Federal Land in California
On August 8, 2018, the Bureau of Land Management submitted a notice of intent to the Federal Register detailing its plan to conduct a supplemental environmental impact study (EIS) to analyze the impact of hydraulic fracturing on publicly-owned land in California. The supplemental EIS will examine the environmental effects of oil and gas development for new leases on 400,000 acres of public land and 1.2 million acres of Federal mineral estate. The study will focus on air and atmospheric values, water quality and quantity, seismicity, special status species, mineral resources, and socioeconomics. BLM also may develop a Resource Management Plan to evaluate resource issues and concerns.

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:


Pennsylvania Notices
Public notice: “DEP Assesses $148,000 Penalty Against Sunoco for Mariner East 2 Violations in Berks, Chester, and Lebanon Counties” Dept. of Environmental Protection (August 6, 2018).

Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive ShaleLaw HotLinks:

Connect with us on Facebook! Every week we will post the CASL Ledger which details all our publications and activities from the week.

This week we published one Shale Law in the Spotlight article: Bankruptcy Filing Reveals Settlement of Water Pollution Claims in Butler County, Pennsylvania

Want to get updates, but prefer to listen? Check out the Shale Law Podcast! We can always be found on our Libsyn page, iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Check the August Agricultural Law Brief! Each month we compile the biggest legal developments in agriculture. If you’d like to receive this update via email, check out our website and subscribe!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Shale Law in the Spotlight: Bankruptcy Filing Reveals Settlement of Water Pollution Claims in Butler County, Pennsylvania

Written by Chloe Marie – Research Fellow

On February 8, 2011, Janet and Fred McIntyre, both residents of Connoquenessing Township in Butler County, Pennsylvania, filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania DEP (DEP) claiming to have experienced drinking water quality issues. The McIntyres alleged that their drinking water quality had seriously deteriorated after Rex Energy Operating Corporation started drilling hydraulically fractured gas wells around their property. In their complaint, they said they suffered from extreme illness and severe vomiting every time they drank water and described the water as being foamy and very odorous.

Rex Energy performed water sampling testing and provided the McIntyres with a water buffalo and bottled water on February 3, 2011, until an investigation could be completed prior to the complaint being filed. The test results from Rex Energy showed no evidence of water pollution. DEP representatives collected water samples on February 10 and 14, 2011; these results also showed no detectable pollutants in the water. On April 4, 2011, DEP again conducted water testing and noticed “no sheen, odor, or foaming to the water.” 

On April 26, 2011, DEP determined that “the sample results of samples taken by the Department did not show any evidence that [the McIntyres’] water was affected by oil and gas drilling activities.” In the investigation report, DEP revealed the presence of iron and manganese in the sampling but concluded that this was caused by the prior removal and replacement of a submersible pump. 
Subsequently, other residents complained about similar symptoms to the ones suffered by the McIntyres. Nine families from the Woodlands communities in Butler County filed lawsuits against Rex Energy claiming health and pollution damages. 

Rex Energy ultimately agreed to pay $159,000 to the Woodland families as part of an agreement in order to settle this water pollution matter. Interestingly, this information became available to the public through Rex Energy’s Statement of Financial Affairs dated July 2, 2018, as part of Rex Energy’s bankruptcy filing before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (docket no. 2:18-bk-22032). 

According a recent news release, Rex Energy Corporation announced that it started the sale process for all of their remaining assets as part of a strategy to “maximize their long-term value and prospects.” The company also declared that it “has secured a financing commitment of $100 million from its existing first lien lenders, which, combined with its normal operating cash flow, will allow Rex Energy to maintain normal operations and meet ongoing financial commitments.” 



This project is funded by the National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Shale Law Weekly Review - August 6, 2018


Written by:
Brennan Weintraub - Research Assistant
Jackie Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator

The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.

Pipelines: U.S. Fourth Circuit Revokes Virginia Permit for Mountain Valley Pipeline
On July 27, 2018, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously decided to revoke a permit that would have allowed for construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline across Jefferson National Forest in southwestern Virginia (Sierra Club v. United States Forest Service, No. 17-2399). The court ruled that the environmental review conducted by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management had been insufficient and ordered the agencies to reconsider the impact of the pipeline on the forest.

Pipelines: U.S. Fourth Circuit Rejects Challenge to Mountain Valley Pipeline
On August 1, 2018, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge by Sierra Club to the Virginia State Water Control Board’s water quality certification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (Sierra Club v. State Water Control Board, No. 17-2406). The agency found that it had a “reasonable assurance” that state waterways would not be harmed by the pipeline, a standard which Sierra Club challenged as insufficient to protect the state’s water quality. The court, however, determined that the agency’s certification decision was appropriate, and not arbitrary or capricious.  

LNG Exports: Department of Energy Issues Final Rule for Small Scale LNG Exports
On July 26, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy published its final rule regarding natural gas exports to nations lacking a free trade agreement with the United States. The rule applies to export applications of up to 51.75 bcf/year, and approval of the application will not require an environmental impact statement or environmental assessment.  Prior to the new rule, which goes into effect on August 24th, such exports required a public interest review. The new rule, Small-Scale Natural Gas Exports, will include such shipments under the category of “small-scale natural gas exports” under the Natural Gas Act.

Pipelines: Pennsylvania Appeals Court Denies Environmental Group’s Appeal
On August 1, 2018, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued a decision denying an appeal by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (Riverkeeper) in their lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Riverkeeper unsuccessfully challenged a state water quality certification for the PennEast pipeline earlier this year (Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. Department of Environmental Protection, No. 1571 C.D. 2017). This decision by the court affirms that Riverkeeper had no legal justification for failing to file a timely appeal. The proposed pipeline is designed to carry natural gas from northeastern Pennsylvania to central New Jersey.

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Charles Sartain, Texas Court Tells Plaintiffs How to Recover Title to Property, Gray Reed (July 31, 2018)

Pennsylvania Notices
Rescission of Technical Guidance, DEP is rescinding the technical guidance document for policies and procedures to be followed by administrative staff in processing oil and gas documents (June 30, 2018).

Public Notice of draft NPDES General Permit for Discharges from Petroleum Product Contaminated Groundwater Remediation Systems (July 28, 2018).

Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive ShaleLaw HotLinks:

Connect with us on Facebook! Every week we will post the CASL Ledger which details all our publications and activities from the week.


Want to get updates, but prefer to listen? Check out the Shale Law Podcast! We can always be found on our Libsyn page, iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Check the July Agricultural Law Brief! Each month we compile the biggest legal developments in agriculture. If you’d like to receive this update via email, check out our website and subscribe!


Friday, August 3, 2018

Shale Law in the Spotlight: Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Refuses Request to Change Direction for Western Portion of Laurel Pipeline


Written by Chloe Marie – Research Fellow

On November 14, 2016, Laurel Pipe Line Company, L.P., a subsidiary of Buckeye Partners, L.P., filed an application to obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience from the Pennsylvania Utility Commission (PUC) seeking to reverse the directional flow of the western portion of the Laurel Pipeline. Since 1957, the Laurel Pipeline has been designed to transport, store, and distribute refined petroleum products from Philadelphia area refineries to destination points in the Pittsburgh area. Buckeye Pipe Line Company, L.P., another subsidiary of Buckeye Partners, L.P., also uses a portion of the Laurel Pipeline to provide interstate transportation service from origin points in New Jersey and Delaware to destination points in Pennsylvania.

The certificate application filed by Laurel states that “this change in direction of service will provide ongoing access to lower wholesale commodity prices for gasoline and other petroleum products to consumers in Western and Central Pennsylvania” before adding that it “will provide an additional Midwest source of petroleum products in the event of a disruption of East Coast supplies.”

Interestingly, this proposed change is part of a project – entitled Broadway II Project – by Buckeye Pipe Line Company, L.P. to expand pipeline capacity from origin points in Woodhaven and Detroit, Michigan through Toledo, Findlay, and Lima, Ohio and Midland, Pennsylvania to a destination point in the Altoona area in central Pennsylvania. In addition to this change in directional flow, Laurel Pipe Line Company, L.P. and Buckeye Pipe Line Company, L.P. also filed a proposed capacity agreement on February 6, 2017, by which “Buckeye will obtain from Laurel throughput capacity sufficient to transport up to 40,000 BPD of refined petroleum products between Eldorado, Pennsylvania and Buckeye’s terminal facilities at Midland, Pennsylvania, and will reduce its capacity rights between Sinking Spring and Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, by the same quantity.”

Numerous energy companies, including Gulf Operating, LLC, Sheetz, Inc., Giant Eagle, Inc., Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining and Marketing (PESRM), Monroe Energy, LLC, and HMSC, a subsidiary of Husky Energy Inc., have filed formal protests identifying concerns about the negative impacts of such change in direction of service on the local economy. To counter Laurel’s argument that the flow reversal would reduce gasoline prices for Pennsylvania consumers, these companies responded as part of their protests that Pittsburgh currently has excess pipeline capacity from both the Midwest and the East Coast; thus allowing Pittsburgh wholesalers and retailers to obtain refined petroleum products at the lowest price through arbitrage. Consequently, they claim that “competition and price levels in Pittsburgh are clearly not providing the incentive for additional supply from the Midwest to flow to Pittsburgh” at the moment.

On March 29, 2018, Administrative Law Judge Eranda Vero issued a recommended decision urging the state utility commission to deny Laurel’s application to reverse the pipeline directional flow. In support of her recommendation, Judge Vero held that Laurel failed to show that the proposed flow reversal would decrease gasoline prices at the pump and highlighted the fact that “Midwestern supplies are already reaching Pennsylvania, yet excess capacity for these products into Pittsburgh is not being fully utilized.”

On July 12, 2018, the state utility commission upheld part of Judge Vero’s recommended opinion and ordered that the application of Laurel for approval to change the Laurel Pipeline directional flow be denied. More precisely, the Commission concluded that “Laurel’s Application is a request for a partial abandonment of intrastate public utility service along its pipeline … and [we] find that Laurel has failed to satisfy its burden of proof regarding its abandonment request.”

Further information regarding this case is available at docket no. PUC A-2016-257829.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Shale Law Weekly Review - July 30, 2018


Written by:
Brennan Weintraub - Research Assistant
Jackie Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator

The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.

Public Lands: Pennsylvania DCNR Releases Shale Gas Monitoring Report
On July 25, 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced the release of the second Shale Gas Monitoring Report. DCNR began this monitoring program in 2011 in order to track, detect, and report on the impacts shale gas development could have on state forests within Pennsylvania. The report found that gas development in state forests has decreased, partially due to market demand and the prohibition on new leasing by DCNR. The report also notes that invasive plants are becoming increasingly problematic, but it found no significant concerns with water quality. According to DCNR, 600,500 out of 2.2 million acres of state forest lands are available for shale gas development.

Air Quality: Pennsylvania DEP Releases Report on Air Quality Sampling Initiative
On July 20, 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released a report on the results of a short-term air quality sampling initiative in Washington County. The report, Long-Term Ambient Air Monitoring Project: Marcellus Shale Gas Facilities, found that health impacts relating to ambient air from unconventional natural gas operations “may be limited” for residents in the area. The researchers found that concentrations of toxic air pollutants were at low levels, however, the researchers noted that insufficient data collection could mean an underestimation of risk and hazard. The report recommended that DEP continue data collection, expand the list of chemicals in the research, and administer further analysis. The Pennsylvania Department of Health released a companion report which, while finding that the DEP’s data was generally sufficient, noted the limitations of some of that data in determining overall air quality.

Production and Operation: Pennsylvania Orders Drillers to Plug Over 1,000 Abandoned Wells
On July 25, 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a news release detailing an order it had sent to three oil and gas companies requiring that they plug their abandoned oil and gas wells. The three companies, Alliance Petroleum, CNX, and XTO have a combined 1,058 wells in Pennsylvania that have been inactive for more than twelve months.

Pipelines: Third Circuit Rejects Religious Freedom Argument Against Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline
On July 25, 2018, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of a lower court to dismiss a claim brought by a group of Catholic sisters against the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. Adorers of the Blood of Christ v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 17-3163. The group, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, owns a piece of land on which the pipeline is proposed to be constructed. The sisters argued that the use of eminent domain to build the pipeline would violate the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA), as their religious beliefs include acting as “stewards of God’s earth.” RFRA is a 1993 federal law which prevents the government from “substantially burden[ing] a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”

Pipelines: Atlantic Coast Pipeline May Begin Construction in North Carolina
On July 24, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave its final approval for Dominion Energy to begin construction of the North Carolina section of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The pipeline, which began construction in 2017, will run roughly six hundred miles from West Virginia to North Carolina. The FERC decision comes as the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to release its full opinion regarding the vacated Incidental Take Statement.

Pipelines: Fourth Circuit Upholds FERC Eminent Domain Use for Pipelines
On July 25, 2018, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a challenge to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) use of eminent domain for natural gas pipelines (Berkley v. Mountain Valley Pipeline, No. 18-1042). The lawsuit was brought by a group of Virginia and West Virginia landowners who claimed that the agency’s use of eminent domain was an unconstitutional taking under the Fourth Amendment. The court affirmed the dismissal because the district court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction, as the litigants failed to go through the appropriate administrative process with FERC.

GHG Emissions: Ninth Circuit Declines to Dismiss Climate Change Lawsuit
On July 20, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined the federal government’s petition for a writ of mandamus in a lawsuit brought by a group of children and young adults (Juliana v. U.S. No. 18-71928). The plaintiffs allege that the government’s policies regarding climate change "have violated and continue to violate Plaintiffs’ fundamental constitutional rights to freedom from deprivation of life, liberty, and property.” The federal government filed a similar petition earlier this year that was also denied.

Federal Lands: Department of Interior Amends Compensatory Mitigation Policy for Public Lands
On July 24, 2018, the Department of the Interior (DOI) issued an instruction memo which alters existing policy regarding compensatory mitigation on public lands. Previously, developers on public land that damaged wildlife or habitats were required to engage in “compensatory mitigation,” which required offset payments to fund environmental restoration and protection projects. In this memo, DOI stated that the Bureau of Land Management must not require compensatory mitigation and may consider voluntary proposals of compensation only under limited circumstances.

International Development: Australian Northern Territory Government Announces Plan to Adopt Recommendations for Hydraulic Fracturing
On July 17, 2018, the government of the Northern Territory of Australia released its plan to implement over one hundred recommendations by the independent Scientific Inquiry Panel before allowing shale gas development to resume. These recommendations largely focus on issues such as environmental protection, industry regulation, and local population benefits. The government is planning to fully implement these recommendations by the end of 2018 in order to allow exploration to begin again next year.

International Development: UK Government Gives Consent for Cuadrilla to Begin Hydraulic Fracturing
On July 24, 2018, the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy granted Cuadrilla final approval to begin hydraulic fracturing in northwest England. Cuadrilla is the first company in the UK to receive hydraulic fracturing consent, an additional step in the regulatory process which was put into place in 2015. This decision follows a report by the National Infrastructure Commission, an independent body which warned that “the UK cannot achieve its emissions targets while relying on natural gas, a fossil fuel, for heating.”

From the National Oil & Gas Law Experts:
Charles Sartain, MSA Indemnity Denied Under the Louisiana Oilfield Indemnity Act, Gray Reed (July 24, 2018)

Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive ShaleLaw HotLinks:

Connect with us on Facebook! Every week we will post the CASL Ledger which details all our publications and activities from the week.


Want to get updates, but prefer to listen? Check out the Shale Law Podcast! We can always be found on our Libsyn page, iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Check the July Agricultural Law Brief! Each month we compile the biggest legal developments in agriculture. If you’d like to receive this update via email, check out our website and subscribe!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Shale Law in the Spotlight – Overview of Recent Legal Actions Relating to Induced Seismicity Damage Claims in the United States (Part 3 of 3)

Written by Chloe Marie – Research Fellow

This article provides an overview of recent legal developments relating to induced seismicity damage claims in the United States. This article is the third in a series that will look at select cases addressing this issue. The first article in this series was published on July 18, 2018, and the second was published on July 20, 2018.

Bryant v. Eagle Road Oil, LLC et al., in the District Court of Pawnee County, Oklahoma (Docket No. CJ-17-18)

On March 8, 2017, Janice and Johnny Bryant filed a lawsuit against Eagle Road Oil LLC, Cummings Oil Company, and several unnamed entities engaged in wastewater disposal activities in Pawnee County, Oklahoma, claiming that defendants “introduced contaminants into the natural environment that caused an adverse change to it in the form of unnatural seismic activitiy.” Plaintiffs alleged that defendants are responsible for the occurrence of an M5.8 earthquake in Pawnee County and its numerous aftershocks that affected plaintiffs on September 3, 2016, and the subsequent days.

Plaintiffs asserted they suffered personal and property damages arising from defendants’ negligence in operating wastewater injection wells, and they sought recovery of compensatory and punitive damages. 

Motions to dismiss the complaint have been filed by defendants. The case is still pending. 

Reid et al. v. White Star Petroleum, LLC et al., in the District Court of Payne County, Oklahoma (Docket No. CJ-16-543)

On December 5, 2016, David and Myra Reid along with other plaintiffs filed a class action petition against White Star Petroleum, LLC and various other energy companies seeking compensation for personal and property damages suffered by plaintiffs following an induced earthquake that occurred around Cushing, Oklahoma, on November 7, 2016. Defendants are engaged in wastewater injection well operations, and plaintiffs claimed that defendants induced said earthquake because of wastewater injection activities. 

Defendant White Star Petroleum, LLC filed a motion to dismiss the class action petition on December 30, 2016, as did defendant FHA Investments, LLC on February 23, 2017. The court denied defendants’ motions on May 31, 2017, and on March 1, 2018, stayed the case until September 6, 2018.

Adams et al. v. Eagle Road Oil, LLC et al. in the District Court of Pawnee County (Docket No. CJ-16-78); in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma (Docket No. 4:16-cv-00757)

On November 17, 2016, James Adams filed a class action petition against Eagle Road Oil LLC, Cummings Oil Company, and several other unnamed entities to recover damages resulting from the M5.8 earthquake that occurred on September 3, 2016, around Pawnee as well as the aftershocks that occurred the following days. Plaintiffs asserted multiple claims for negligence, private nuisance, and trespass. Plaintiffs alleged that “Defendants’ actions, in knowingly causing seismic activity as a result of their injection well operations, constitute wanton or reckless disregard for public or private safety, and are thus subject to a claim for punitive damages.” The case was removed to federal court on December 21, 2016. 

On December 27, 2016, Defendant Cummings Oil Company filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff’s class action petition for failure to state a claim, and on January 4, 2017, Defendant Eagle Road Oil LLC moved to dismiss the complaint. 

On January 20, 2017, plaintiff James Adams filed a motion to remand the case to state court, which was granted by the court on April 12, 2017. The court scheduled an evidentiary hearing for August 23, 2018, to determine whether wastewater injection well activities should be considered ultra-hazardous.

Hearn v. BHP Billiton Petroleum (Arkansas) Inc. et al., in the Circuit Court of Faulkner County, Arkansas (Docket No. 23CV-11-492); in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas (Docket No. 4:11-cv-00474)

On May 24, 2011, Stephen Hearn filed a class action petition against BHP Billiton Petroleum (Arkansas) Inc., BHP Billiton Petroleum (Fayetteville) LLC, Chesapeake Operating, Inc. and Clarita Operating, LLC, alleging that their oil and gas drilling operations caused an induced earthquake on February 28, 2011, near Greenbrier and Guy in central Arkansas. Plaintiff also argued that the earthquake’s occurrence “is directly linked and contributed to by Defendants’ operations and injection wells, and substantially and unreasonably interferes with the Plaintiff and the Class’ use and enjoyment of their property and causes reasonable fear of the safety of the Class.” In addition, plaintiff pointed out that defendant’s actions “have caused the price and deductibles for earthquake insurance in the Central Arkansas area to skyrocket as well as detrimentally impacted property values.”

Plaintiff sought to obtain compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief preventing defendants from conducting any more activity that would lead to further seismic activity. The case was removed to federal court on June 9, 2011. 

On August 2, 2011, Stephen Hearn filed, along with other plaintiffs involved in similar cases, a motion to consolidate the following actions: 

-       Frey et al. v. BHP Billiton Petroleum Arkansas Inc. et al., Docket No. 4:11-cv-0475;
-       Lane et al. BHP Billiton Petroleum Arkansas Inc. et al., Docket No. 4:11-cv-0477; and
-       Palmer et al. v. BHP Billiton Petroleum (Arkansas) Inc. et al. Docket No. 4:11-cv-0476.

The court granted such motion on August 31, 2011, with Hearn v. BHP Billiton Petroleum (Arkansas) Inc. et al., 4:11-cv-00474 becoming the lead case. On August 28, 2013, the court dismissed the consolidated Hearn, Palmer, and Lane cases. On March 20, 2014, it also dismissed the Frey case with prejudice. The case is now closed.