The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas:
North Yorkshire County Council approves UK Third Energy’s application to perform hydraulic fracturing operations in Northern UK
On May 23, 2016, the North Yorkshire County Council’s planning committee announced that it accepted Third’s Energy application to conduct hydraulic fracturing operations in North Yorkshire, located in Northern UK. In a Press Release, the North Yorkshire County Council declared that “the committee has sat for two days and listened to over 100 speakers before deliberating the planning officer’s report and recommendation to accept Third Energy’s application” before applauding the efforts made by the company to mitigate the potential environmental and public health impacts.
Pennsylvania DEP Secretary resigns
On May 20, 2016, Pennsylvania DEP Secretary John Quigley announced his resignation. In a News Release, Governor Tom Wolf accepted the resignation and appointed Patrick McDonnell as the Acting Secretary of the department. Patrick McDonnell was serving as the director of policy for the Pennsylvania DEP prior to his appointment.
New Texas study examines the causes of earthquake activity in the state since 1925
On May 18, 2016, the University of Texas’s Institute for Geophysics at Austin and the Southern Methodist University’s Huffington Department of Earth Sciences released a study entitled “A Historical Review of Induced Earthquakes in Texas” published in the Seismological Research Letters. Researchers used a five-question test to classify individual seismic events as “tectonic,” “possibly induced,” “probably induced,” or “almost certainly induced.” They found that 26% of seismic events are “almost certainly induced,” 33% are “probably induced,” 28% are “possibly induced,” and 13% are “tectonic” earthquakes.
Mineral rights owner brings action against the Delaware River Basin Commission over a six-year drilling moratorium in the Delaware River Basin
On May 17, 2016, Wayne Land and Mineral Group (WLMG), LLC, filed a lawsuit against the Delaware River Basin Commission in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania challenging the Commission’s authority over natural gas well pads in the Delaware River Basin pursuant to Section 3.8 of the Delaware River Basin Compact. WLMG alleged that “as a result of the Commission’s unlawful assertion of jurisdiction, WLMG is unable to develop a Well Pad on [its] property and to thereby recoup its upfront costs and earn a reasonable return on its investment.” The case is currently pending at docket no. 3:16-cv-00897.
California Grand Jury charges pipeline company with 46 criminal counts over pipeline failure near Santa Barbara
On May 16, 2016, a California grand jury charged Plains All American Pipeline L.P. with 46 criminal counts associated with the failure and spill of the Line 901 pipeline near Santa Barbara, California. Oceanfront Real Property Owners have filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against the company on June 23, 2015 alleging that “defendants wantonly disregarded the health and safety of the people and environment by operating a pipeline it knew did not have proper safety systems in place.” More information on the case Alexandra B. Geremia v. Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. et al is available at docket no. 2:15-cv-04759.
Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow