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: Minnesota Supreme Court Allows Pipeline Protesters to Go Forward With Climate “Necessity Defense”
On July 18, 2018, the Minnesota Supreme Court declined to review a state Court of Appeals ruling that pipeline protesters arrested for shutting down a pipeline within the state could present a necessity defense based on the potential effect of climate change (State v. Klapstein, 2018 Minn. App. Unpub. Apr. 23, 2018). In October 2016, several climate change protesters used bolt-cutters to enter property owned by Enbridge in order to shut down a pipeline located in Leonard, Minnesota. Three of the defendants were charged with felony criminal damage to property and trespassing. The defendants filed notice of their intentions to present the necessity defense at trial, arguing that their actions were necessary to prevent the growing threat of climate change. The protestors will be tried later this year.
Production and Operation: Colorado Changes Orphaned Oil and Gas Well Policies
On July 18, 2018, Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado issued an executive order directing the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (Commission) to expand existing efforts to plug, remediate, and reclaim orphaned oil and gas wells within the state. The order directs the Commission to complete the cleanup of over two hundred abandoned oil and gas wells by July 2023. The order estimates that the total cleanup costs will be roughly $25 million.
GHG Emissions: New York Federal Court Dismisses Climate Change Lawsuit
On July 19, 2018, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a lawsuit filed by New York City against several large energy companies (City of New York v. BP P.L.C., Chevron Corporation, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Corporation, and Royal Dutch Shell, PC, Docket No. 18 Civ. 182). The city sought to recover for damages related to climate change that, it alleged, the companies had helped to cause. The plaintiff alleged three causes of action including public nuisance, private nuisance, and trespass. The dismissal of this suit follows the dismissal of a similar suit by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, California in June.
GHG Emissions: Baltimore Files Climate Suit Against Major Energy Companies
On July 20, 2018, Baltimore, Maryland filed a lawsuit against twenty-six oil and gas companies alleging that they contributed to climate change affecting the city (Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. BP P.L.C., et al.). This lawsuit is one of several that U.S. cities have filed against fossil fuel companies in recent months. The complaint alleges that the companies violated a number of state laws, including consumer protection laws, by neglecting to inform the public of the potential dangers of climate change in previous decades. The plaintiffs argue that Maryland’s coastal waters will rise and city will experience more frequent and severe flooding and storms as a direct result of the defendants’ greenhouse gas emissions.
SB 1189 An act which would require the Delaware River Basin Commission to pay compensation to landowners affected by the drilling moratorium (re-referred to appropriations, June 13, 2018)
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“Groups sue North Dakota over oil refinery near national park” - Washington Post
“With policy change, nearly a third of Pennsylvanians live in environmental justice areas” - StateImpact Pennsylvania
“Desperate for answers, suburban groups bankroll two-county study of Sunoco pipeline” - Philadelphia Inquirer
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This week we published two Shale Law in the Spotlight articles: Overview of Recent Legal Actions Relating to Induced Seismicity Damage Claims in the United States (Part 1 of 3); and Shale Law in the Spotlight – Overview of Recent Legal Actions Relating to Induced Seismicity Damage Claims in the United States (Part 2 of 3)
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