Leggett v. EQT Production Company Case Rejects Tawney Reasoning, Opens Door for Further Challenges to Imposed System of Post-Production Cost Calculations in WV

On May 26, 2017, in a suit styled Leggett v EQT Production Company, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals issued majority and concurring (links to PDFs) opinions finding 4-1 that the use of the language “at the wellhead” in the Flat Rate Royalty(…)

Ohio Court Of Appeals Applies Broad Application of “Holder” Under Dormant Mineral Act

The Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh Appellate District, recently held that (i) heirs had standing to challenge a surface owners’ notice of abandonment under the Dormant Mineral Act (DMA), and (ii) an affidavit of preservation constitutes a valid cla(…)

West Virginia Supreme Court Ruling Potentially Impacts Use of Partition Statute

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia recently emphasized that a party seeking a partition of property by allotment or by sale under W. Va. Code §37-4-3 must strictly follow the prerequisites in the statute — but only those prerequisites. In B(…)

Pennsylvania Appeals Court Vacates Denial of Class Certification of Lessors to Oil and Gas Leases in Clearfield County

On January 17, 2017, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania vacated a trial court’s order denying class certification of two classes of lessors to oil and gas leases covering property in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania in Cardinale v. R.E. Gas Dev., 2017(…)

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Ohio Dormant Mineral Act Case

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari in Walker v. Shondrick-Nau, Exr. (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5793). As more fully explained in our Blog post discussing Walker, in September the Ohio Supreme Court held that, if a su(…)

Ohio Supreme Court Addresses Post-Production Costs

In Lutz et al. v. Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C., Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-7549, the Ohio Supreme Court declined to answer the certified question submitted by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio as to whether Ohio follows the “a(…)

Ohio Supreme Court Rules on Interpretation of Ohio Dormant Mineral Act

Today, the Ohio Supreme Court issued three written opinions interpreting the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (O.R.C. §5301.56) (the “ODMA”) and decided 10 related cases based upon its decisions set forth in the written opinions. Notably, in Corban v. Chesape(…)

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Affirms Title Washing

On July 19, in Herder Spring Hunting Club v. Keller (Case No. 5 MAP 2015), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in a 5-0 decision to confirm the practice of “title washing” of unseated or unimproved land in Pennsylvania. Prior to January 1, 1948, “tit(…)

PA Federal Court Finds Operator Obligated to Pay Bonuses Under Surrendered Lease

On July 15, a Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania found that SWEPI LP (“SWEPI”) was obligated to pay bonuses under an oil and gas lease that it had surrendered prior to a 90 day title verification period. In Masci(…)

BLM Hydraulic Fracturing Rule Struck Down by Federal Court

On June 21, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming (“District Court”) set aside the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management’s (“BLM’s”) “Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands” rule, finding that the rul(…)

Court Invalidates Fayette County (W.Va.) Ordinance Banning Underground Injection Well

On June 10, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order invalidating those parts of a Fayette County (W.Va.) ordinance that prohibit the use of underground injection wells for the disp(…)

District Court Upholds Primacy of Lease’s Change of Ownership Clause

On May 20, 2016, the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted summary judgment in favor of Babst Calland’s client in Montrose Hillbillies II, LLP v. WPX Energy Keystone, LLP and Stern Marcellus Holdings, LLC , a case involving the extension of the prim(…)

Administrative Watch: Environmental Groups File Suit Over Absence of Regulation of Oil & Gas Waste

On May 4, 2016, seven environmental groups followed through on a prior threat to sue the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by filing a lawsuit against the EPA in a bid to force the agency to develop tailored rules for the disposal, s(…)

Federal Magistrate Judge Allows Suit Challenging Pennsylvania Township's Injection Well Ban To Proceed

On March 29, Federal Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter dismissed a motion made by Highland Township in Elk County, PA (the “Township”) and allowed a suit brought by Seneca Resources Corporation (“Seneca”) to proceed. The action filed by Seneca ch(…)

Ohio Supreme Court Resolves Hupp v. Beck Energy Once and For All

The Ohio Supreme Court definitively decided a case that at one time threatened the validity of thousands of Ohio oil and gas leases. As previously reported in April of 2014, the Seventh District Court of Appeals overturned the decision of the Monroe C(…)

Commonwealth Court Affirms Lycoming County Ruling In Favor of UGI

As previously reported, in November 2014, the Lycoming County Court of Common Pleas granted the condemnation of a temporary construction easement to UGI Penn Natural Gas, Inc., a public utility.  As a result, UGI was allowed to use the easement to par(…)

Pennsylvania Supreme Court To Determine Standard For Constitutional Challenges Under the Environmental Rights Amendment

As reported by Law360, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will allow argument after the January decision by the Commonwealth Court in Pa. Envtl. Def. Found. v. Commonwealth, 108 A.3d 140, 45 ELR 20006, in order to determine how judges should approach gove(…)

Court Requires $5.69 Million Bond For Objector To Well Pad To Move Forward With Appeal

Babst Calland represents an oil and gas operator in Lycoming County, PA, where a recent court order requires an objector to a well pad to post a $5.69 million bond in order to move forward with a land use appeal.  The basic facts of the case are descr(…)

Ohio Supreme Court Rules on Dormant Mineral Act Issue

In Chesapeake Exploration v. Buell, the Ohio Supreme Court held that oil and gas leases constitute “title transactions” under Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act (“DMA”). Under the DMA a “title transaction” constitutes a saving event to preclude severed minera(…)

Court Upholds Zoning Ordinance Permitting Oil and Gas Well Development In Agricultural/Residential Zoning District

On October 21, 2015, Judge Richard McCormick, President Judge of the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas, issued a decision and order upholding the validity of Allegheny Township’s zoning ordinance, which permits oil and gas well development in(…)

Federal Court Invalidates Portions of a Local Ordinance, Which Banned the Use of Underground Injection Wells

On October 14, 2015, the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania invalidated several provisions of a Grant Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania local ordinance that was intended to prevent an oil and gas operator from o(…)

Environmental Groups Plan Suit Over Absence of Regulation of Oil and Gas Waste

On August 26, 2015, seven environmental groups sent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a Notice of Intent to Sue the agency in an attempt to force the agency to develop tailored rules for oil and gas wastes under the Resource Conservation(…)

Ohio Judge Rules in Favor of Permitting Surveys in NEXUS Pipeline Case

The Medina County Court of Common Pleas issued a decision allowing surveys to be completed on tracts of land along the proposed NEXUS pipeline route. In Nexus Gas Transmission, LLC v. Houston, the Court ruled that the plain language of Chapter 163 of(…)

Pa. Commonwealth Court Reverses Controversial Lycoming County Decision

Earlier today, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court issued a unanimous decision in the much-anticipated case of Gorsline v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfield Township, reversing the decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County. In reversing(…)

Court Rules That Gas Lease Was Not Forfeited

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled on Friday that an oil and gas lease was not forfeited by the failure of the operators to pay delay rentals. In Dewing v. Abarta Oil & Gas Co., the landowners (the “Dewings”) executed an oil and gas lease that(…)

Ohio Court Reaches Decision on Lease Forfeiture Action

On August 14, 2015, the Ohio Fifth District Court of Appeals issued a decision in Armstrong  v. Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C., deciding that the plaintiffs may not pursue an action seeking lease forfeiture based on the nonpayment of oil and natural g(…)

Ohio Supreme Court Rules on Dormant Mineral Act Issue

In a unanimous decision, the Ohio Supreme Court held that under the 2006 Dormant Mineral Act (“DMA”), the filing of a claim to preserve a mineral interest from being deemed abandoned is sufficient to preserve the mineral interest if it was recorded wi(…)

Ohio Appeals Court Finds Forfeiture Is Not Appropriate Remedy for Breach of Oil and Gas Lease

In Hoop v. Kimble, the Seventh District Court of Appeals upheld a trial court ruling that forfeiture was not an appropriate remedy for the breach of an anti-assignment provision in an oil and gas lease. In the case, the original lessee of the lease di(…)

Ohio Appeals Court Reaffirms Decision in Hupp v. Beck Energy Corp.

The Seventh District Court of Appeals has reaffirmed its prior decision in Hupp v. Beck Energy Corp. In Belmont Hills Country Club v. Beck Energy Corp. and Bentley v. Beck Energy Corp., the appeals court relied on Hupp in holding that a conditional se(…)

Constitution Pipeline Can Be Built Across Holdout Properties

FuelFix.com reports that the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania recently ruled that the Constitution Pipeline can be built across seven northeastern Pennsylvania properties despite the fact that the respective landowners had n(…)

Third Circuit Affirms Decision to Dismiss Doctor's Act 13 Challenge

In a recent non-precedential opinion, the Third Circuit affirmed a decision of the Middle District of Pennsylvania dismissing an action on the basis that a doctor lacked standing to challenge what he refers to as the “Medical Gag Rules” of Act 13.  In(…)

Ohio Trial Court Rejects Local Drilling Ban

Relying on the recent authority in State ex rel. Morrison v. Beck Energy Corp., the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court struck down a local Ohio drilling ban. In Bass Energy, Inc. v. City of Broadview Heights, the court held that a charter amendment pr(…)

Pennsylvania Natural Gas Operator Prevails in Air Aggregation Case

Earlier this week, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of a natural gas operator in a closely-watched case involving air aggregation issues.  In 2011, Citizens for Pennsylvania(…)

Pennsylvania High Court Prohibits Tolling of Oil and Gas Leases During Litigation

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued Harrison v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., a significant opinion in which the Court refused to apply equitable tolling principles that other oil and gas jurisdictions have adopted.  Such principles prevent(…)

Ohio Supreme Court Rejects Municipal Ordinances Regulating Oil and Gas Operations

The Ohio Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of Beck Energy, holding that Ohio Constitution’s home rule amendment does not allow a municipality to enforce its own oil and gas permitting scheme on top of the state system. In the case, the city of Mu(…)

Ohio Supreme Court Schedules Oral Argument in Dormant Mineral Act Cases

The Ohio Supreme Court scheduled oral argument in two significant Dormant Mineral Act (“DMA”) cases. Oral argument has been scheduled on Corban v. Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C. for May 6, 2015. As previously reported on ShaleEnergyLawBlog, the Corban(…)

Court Rules That Search For Heirs Of Oil And Gas Estate Deficient

On January 27, 2015, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed an order by the Court of Common Pleas of Susquehanna County in Sisson, et al. v. Stanley, et al.   The trial court’s order allowed the heirs of Joseph Stanley, who previously reserved all t(…)

Ohio Supreme Court Accepts Major Oil and Gas Lease Busting Case for Review

The Ohio Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction over Hupp v. Beck Energy, an important Ohio case involving the interpretation of oil and gas leases. The case involves a challenge by landowners in Monroe County to a standard form oil and gas lease. The la(…)

Ohio Court of Appeals Holds Assignment of Shallow Rights Does Not Sever Lease

The Fourth District Court of Appeals held in Marshall v. Beekay Company that continuous production from shallow wells pursuant to two oil and gas leases holds the deep rights to the property. The landowners in the case claimed that an assignment of th(…)

PEDF v. Corbett: Appropriations From The Oil And Gas Lease Fund Do Not Violate The Environmental Rights Amendment

On January 7, 2015, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania entered an opinion and order in the case Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  The Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation (“PEDF”) sought decla(…)

Ohio Landowners Opposing OPEN Pipeline Eminent Domain

Ohio landowners are opposing the use of eminent domain in the construction of a 76 mile pipeline between Columbiana County and Monroe County. The OPEN pipeline would connect to the Texas Eastern Pipeline and was recently approved by the Federal Energy(…)

Gastar Successfully Defeats Twin Litigation Cases in Pennsylvania and West Virginia

Judge David W. Hummel, Jr. of Marshall County, West Virginia has dismissed the second in a pair of lawsuits aimed to restrict operator Gastar Exploration, Inc.’s ability to hydraulically fracture several wells in Marshall County, West Virginia.  Accor(…)

Ohio Amends Lease Recording Statute to Clarify Status of Oil and Gas Leases

The Ohio legislature has clarified that oil and gas leases create an interest in real property. Ohio’s Substitute House Bill 9 includes a provision amending Ohio’s lease recording statute (R.C. 5301.09) as follows: In recognition that such leases and(…)

Ohio Appeals Court Rules on Oil and Gas Lease Issues

The Fifth District Court of Appeals issued a ruling addressing several issues concerning the interpretation of oil and gas leases. The lessee of several oil and gas leases created a 145-acre drilling unit utilizing a small portion of one of the leases(…)

Pennsylvania Superior Court Emphasizes Significance Of Title Searches In Trespass Action

The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently ruled that constructive notice of a title defect may toll the running of the statute of limitations and affect damages for an action in trespass and conversion to oil and gas rights in Sabella v. Appalachian De(…)

New York Court Declines to Re-Hear Land Use Case as Governor Anticipates Health Report by End of 2014

On October 16, 2014, the New York Court of Appeals denied a request by the bankruptcy trustee for Norse Energy to re-hear arguments in the landmark case affirming local zoning laws adopted by two upstate towns that prohibited oil and gas-related activ(…)

Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals Weighs in on Dormant Mineral Act Issue

Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals recently held that the 1989 version of Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act applies to current disputes concerning ownership of severed mineral estates. The court in Wendt v. Dickerson followed previous rulings from the Se(…)

Zoning Hearing Board Erred When It Denied Application for Natural Gas Compressor Station

On September 26, 2014, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued an opinion in favor of MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources, LLC.  MarkWest had purchased a 71.5 acre parcel of undeveloped land in Cecil Township, Pennsylvania, and had applie(…)

Ohio Appeals Court Decides Additional Dormant Mineral Act Issues

The Seventh District Court of Appeals decided two additional legal issues concerning application of the 1989 version of the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (“DMA”) in Tribett v. Shepard. The two issues were whether application of the 1989 DMA in the lawsuit(…)

Ohio Appeals Court Overturns Trial Court in Perpetual Lease Case

The Seventh District Court of Appeals overturned the Monroe County trial court’s decision in Hupp v. Beck Energy Corporation finding that a standard oil and gas lease form was void as against public policy. The appeals court found that the delay renta(…)

New York High Court Asked to Re-hear Arguments in Case Banning Oil and Gas Activities

Citing a recently decided case in Colorado, the bankruptcy trustee for Norse Energy filed a motion in early August urging the New York Court of Appeals to re-hear arguments in the case.  In June, the Court of Appeals issued an opinion which affirmed l(…)

Ohio Court of Appeals Decision Adds New Wrinkle to Dormant Mineral Act Litigation

A recent decision from the Seventh District Court of Appeals, Eisenbarth v. Reusser, adds a new wrinkle to the ongoing legal battles concerning the applicability and scope of Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act (“DMA”). The Seventh District previously ruled in(…)

Four Veteran West Virginia Attorneys Join Babst Calland's Charleston Office as Shareholders

Veteran attorneys Timothy Miller from Robinson & McElwee, and Christopher ‘Kip” Power, Mychal Schulz and Robert Stonestreet from the Charleston office of Dinsmore & Shohl have joined forces with Babst Calland in providing senior-level legal co(…)

Public Utility Commission Appeals Act 13 Ruling

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission appealed the Commonwealth Court’s July 17, 2014 Opinion and Order in the Act 13 case, which resolved a number of issues remanded by the Supreme Court. Review Babst Calland’s Administrative Watches for in-dept(…)

Ohio Supreme Court Accepts Dormant Mineral Act Case

The Ohio Supreme Court will review a key question of state law concerning application of the Dormant Mineral Act (“DMA”). In Corban v. Chesapeake Exploration, LLC, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio certified the follow(…)

Commonwealth Court Issues Decision On Remaining Issues In Act 13 Case

In its far-reaching decision in Robinson v. Commonwealth, which was issued on December 19, 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated several critical provisions of Act 13.  Additionally, the Supreme Court remanded to the Commonwealth Court to a(…)

New York Court Dismisses Suits Seeking to Compel State’s Environmental Impact Statement

On July 11, 2014, a New York state trial court dismissed two similar cases in which the plaintiffs sought to compel the State to finalize a Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (“SGEIS”) pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Revie(…)

Pennsylvania’s Landlord and Tenant Act Is not Applicable to Oil and Gas Leases

In a recent opinion, the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed whether Pennsylvania’s Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 (the “Act”), and the applicable statute of frauds contained therein, applies to oil and gas leases.  In Nolt v. TS Calkins & Asso(…)

New York’s Highest Court Upholds Right of Municipalities to Ban Oil and Gas Activities

Today the New York Court of Appeals issued an opinion affirming local zoning laws adopted by two upstate towns that prohibited oil and gas-related activities within their borders.   Specifically, the Court ruled that there was nothing within the plain(…)

Sixth Circuit Rules in Lease Extension Case

The Sixth Circuit recently affirmed summary judgment granted to Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C. by the Southern District of Ohio court, holding that Chesapeake could extend its oil and gas lease with the plaintiffs on the same terms in the original leas(…)

New York’s Highest Court Hears Oral Arguments on Local Bans

Yesterday the New York Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in two cases challenging the authority of a municipality to ban certain oil and gas activities within its jurisdiction.  The Court is reviewing two lower court decisions from May 2013 which(…)

Ohio Appeals Court Issues Decision on Lease Termination

The Seventh District Court of Appeals issued a decision concerning the automatic termination of an oil and gas lease. The case involved an oil and gas lease which required two wells to be put into production by November of 1989 or the lease would auto(…)

Pennsylvania Superior Court Issues "Title Wash" Opinion

On May 9, 2014, in the case of Herder Spring Hunting Club v. Keller, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania issued an opinion addressing the termination of outstanding oil and gas interests through a tax sale in Pennsylvania.  The property at issue was su(…)

Ohio Trial Court Issues Dormant Mineral Act Ruling

The Belmont County Court of Common Pleas ruled that a recorded will is a title transaction for purposes of Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act. In Albanese v. Batman the trial court held that a will recorded in the county recorder’s office qualifies as title t(…)

Ohio Trial Court Issues Dormant Mineral Act Decision

A Harrison County trial court issued a decision in a Dormant Mineral Act case addressing the issue of whether a release of an oil and gas lease is a title transaction affecting and preserving a severed mineral interest from being abandoned. The trial(…)

Ohio Decision Results in Victory for Oil and Gas Producers

An Ohio trial court issued a decision in Marshall v. Beekay Company. The case involved an action seeking declaratory judgment as to leasehold rights for formations below the Germantown Sand Formation. The court ruled that there was no breach of the im(…)

Ohio Appellate Court Enforces Change In Ownership Clause in Lease

The Fifth District Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision in Trico Land Company, LLC v. Kenoil Producing LLC, upholding the right to have and enforce a change of ownership clause in an oil and gas lease. The case involved a property subj(…)

Federal Judge Enjoins Hempfield Township From Prohibiting Seismic Testing

On April 10, 2014, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction forcing Hempfield Township to permit ION Geophysical of Houston (ION) to perform seismic testing on the Township’s roads.  Hempfield Township argued that it does not specifically perm(…)

Judge Denies Requests to Intervene in Act 13 Case

On April 9, 2014, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini denied the petition to intervene of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association, Marcellus Shale Coalition and American Petroleum Institute in the Act 13 litigat(…)

Ohio Appeals Court Issues Dormant Mineral Act Ruling

The Seventh District Court of Appeals issued a ruling concerning application of the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act. In Walker v. Noon, the appeals court upheld the ruling of a Noble County trial court finding that the 1989 version of the Dormant Mineral Act(…)

New York Attorney General Seeks Dismissal of Lawsuits

The New York Attorney General’s office has filed motions to dismiss two lawsuits that seek to force Governor Cuomo to end a delay in deciding the future of shale drilling within the State.  The two lawsuits, filed separately by a group of landowners a(…)

Ohio Supreme Court Accepts Jurisdiction in Dormant Mineral Act Case

The Ohio Supreme Court has accepted jurisdiction of a discretionary appeal in Dodd v. Croskey, which involves Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act (“DMA”). Under the DMA there are several “savings events” which may occur in the previous twenty years that will p(…)

Supreme Court Denies Application For Reargument Or Reconsideration Of Act 13 Decision

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday, February 21, 2014, denied an Application for Reargument or Reconsideration filed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania regarding the Act 13 decision.  The December 19, 2013 Opinion and Order of the Supreme Court(…)

Pennsylvania Court Rules Seneca Has Rights On Game Land

On January 27th, 2014, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania overruled in part and sustained in part the preliminary objections of Seneca Resources Corporation (Seneca) to a complaint filed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission (Commission).  The Commi(…)

Ohio Trial Courts Issue Additional Rulings on the Dormant Mineral Act

Two Ohio trial courts issued new decisions on Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act (“DMA”) addressing an unsettled issue of law concerning whether the 1989 or 2006 version of the DMA should apply to current disputes over the ownership of severed mineral rights.(…)

Federal Circuit Court Rules In Favor of Oil and Gas Producer

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that unitizing a property can be sufficient to extend a lease beyond its primary term. In Henry v. Chesapeake Appalachia, the dispositive issue concerned whether “operations” were conducted on the landowner’s p(…)

Commonwealth Asks Pennsylvania Supreme Court To Reconsider Act 13 Decision

As reported in December, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on December 19, 2013 invalidated portions of Act 13, including provisions limiting local government control and provisions regarding setbacks from the waters of the Commonwealth, pursuant to Arti(…)

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Decides Act 13 Case

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that several critical provisions of Act 13, the General Assembly’s 2012 comprehensive update to the former Oil and Gas Act, are unconstitutional.  In addition to invalidating a key section of Act 13 placing lim(…)

Minimum Gas Royalties Not Divisible In Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently held in Southwestern Energy Production Company, et al. v. Forest Resources, LLC, et al. that an “assignment back” clause that results in a lessor’s net royalty being less than one-eighth violates the Pennsylvan(…)

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Declines To Hear Appeal In Caldwell v. Kriebel

On November 26, 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the Superior Court’s decision in Caldwell v. Kriebel Resources Co., which held that an oil and gas lease does not contain an implied duty to develop all strata.  The Su(…)

Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board Dismisses Request To Establish Well Spacing And Drilling Units

On August 26, 2013, Hilcorp Energy Company (Hilcorp) filed a complaint and application requesting that the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (PAEHB) issue an order to establish well spacing and drilling units pursuant to the Oil and Gas Conserv(…)

Third Circuit Rules In Favor Of Shell Because Of Lease Unitization Clause

On November 18, 2013, the Third Circuit affirmed a summary judgment ruling out of the Middle District of Pennsylvania in favor of Shell Western Exploration and Production, LP (Shell) in a case captioned as George W. Linder, et al. v. SWEPI, LP, a/k/a(…)

New York Landowners Announce Intent to Sue Governor and State Over Drilling Delay

On November 12, 2013, the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York announced that it has finalized a complaint which the group intends to file in New York state court over the delay in deciding the future of shale drilling in the State.  The complaint,(…)

Federal District Court Denies Request To Use Eminent Domain Authority To Relocate Interstate Gas Pipeline

On October 24, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania denied Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC’s (Columbia) request to use the eminent domain authority provided in the Natural Gas Act to acquire new pipeline easements from(…)

Trial Court Issues Key Ruling on Ohio's Dormant Mineral Act

An Ohio trial court issued a key ruling on Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act (“DMA”). The Carroll County Court of Common Pleas in Dahlgren v. Brown Farm Properties, LLC departed from a series of trial court decisions adopting the legal theories of surface ow(…)

Middle District of Pennsylvania Dismisses Physician's Challenge to Act 13

On October 23rd, the Middle District of Pennsylvania dismissed Dr. Alfonso Rodriguez’s complaint challenging Act 13’s so-called “Medical Gag Act.”  If, during the course of treating a patient, a health professional deems it necessary for an operator t(…)

Royalty Reduction Lawsuit Moves Forward With Class Certification

The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania has accepted in part the recommendations of a magistrate judge, and has granted the motion to certify two classes of plaintiffs in Pollock v. Energy Corp. of America. A third cl(…)

Land Owner Concedes Strict Liability Claim in Compressor Station Case

Penn State Marcellus Shale Law Blog reports that the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania recently granted in part and denied in part Texas Eastern Transmission, L.P.’s motion to dismiss and or strike a personal injury complain(…)

Lawsuit Filed Against Ohio Water District for Leasing and Water Sales

Two Ohio groups recently issued a press release regarding a lawsuit which has been filed against the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District over its oil and gas leasing practices and its sale of water for hydraulic fracturing.  The MWCD, tasked with(…)

New York’s Highest Court Sets Briefing Schedule in Local Gas Drilling Ban Cases

The New York Court of Appeals on September 30, 2013 set a schedule for the parties to file briefs in two cases that will likely have a substantial impact on the future of hydraulic fracturing in the state.  In August of this year, the Court of Appeals(…)

West Virginia Supreme Court Reverses Prior Ruling in Favor of Cabot

On September 26, 2013, in the case of Thornsbury v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (2013 W. Va. LEXIS 958), the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia ruled that, although an oil and gas lease to Cabot affecting surface lands owned by Thornsbury c(…)

Environmental Group Sues New York Department of Health to Obtain Hydraulic Fracturing Review Documents

An environmental advocacy group reportedly filed a lawsuit against the New York Department of Health on September 13, 2013, seeking to force the release of documents related to the agency’s public health review of hydraulic fracturing.  The Seneca Lak(…)

Federal Court Holds Lease Extended By Shut-In Royalty Provision

On August 14th, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania adopted a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation that recommended granting SWEPI, LP’s (“SWEPI”) motion to dismiss a lawsuit regarding the extension of a le(…)

Fourth Circuit Upholds Chesapeake Ruling Regarding Waste Pits

On September 4, 2013, in the case of Whiteman v. Chesapeake Appalachia, L. L. C. (2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 18359 (4th Cir. W. va. 2013)), the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a District Court ruling from the Northern District o(…)

New York’s Highest Court to Review Decisions Upholding Local Gas Drilling Bans

On August 29, 2013, the New York Court of Appeals announced that it has granted appeals to review two cases which upheld local natural gas drilling bans in the upstate towns of Dryden and Middlefield.  The lower court decisions, both of which were iss(…)

Federal Court Determines Predrilling Activities Extend Term Of Lease

On August 13th, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted partial summary judgment in favor of Chief Exploration & Development and other defendants (Chief) in a consolidated case regarding the extension of th(…)

Essroc Cement Files Lawsuit To Halt NiSource/Hilcorp Pipeline In Lawrence County

Essroc Cement Corporation, with locations scattered across the Midwest and Northeast, has filed a federal lawsuit in Pittsburgh, seeking to stop a planned pipeline from crossing property in Lawrence County. The pipeline is a joint venture operation be(…)

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Applies To Resubmit Act 13 Case to Supreme Court

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) filed two applications this week with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in cases related to Act 13.  In the appeal related to the constitutionality of Act 13 the PUC filed an Application to Resubmit Case,(…)

New Justice Will Not Participate In Act 13 Ruling

Newly-appointed Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Correale Stevens will not participate in ruling on the legality of Act 13 or on any other case that has gone through oral argument.  With only six justices participating in the decision, the Act 13 de(…)

Superior Court Upholds Right Of Operator To Construct An Impoundment And To Utilize Hydraulic Fracturing Under Terms Of Lease

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania upheld the trial court’s decision in Humberston v. Chevron U.S.A. to grant preliminary objections in favor of Chevron U.S.A., Inc. and Keystone Vacuum, Inc., holding that Chevron and Keysone had the right under the o(…)

Landowners Threaten Legal Action Against Delaware River Basin Commission

The Corning Leader reports that, in response to Governor Corbett’s recent letter to the Delaware River Basin Commission, a 1,300 member landowner group has threatened to sue the DRBC.  The Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance sent a letter to the e(…)

Pennsylvania Appellate Court Finds That Lease Contains No Implied Duty To Drill In All Strata

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently rejected an argument that an oil and gas lease contains an implied duty to develop all strata, and not simply to extract shallow gas. In Caldwell v. Kriebel Resources Co. and Range-Resources-Appalachia, LLC,(…)

West Virginia’s Highest Court Defines “Surface” for Conveyance Instruments

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, West Virginia’s highest court, recently overruled a point in the 1923 case of Ramage v. South Penn Oil Co. (W. Va.), which established that the term “surface” was presumptively ambiguous and always subject t(…)

Ohio Supreme Court Accepts Jurisdiction in "Home Rule" Case

The Ohio Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction over the closely watched “home rule” case State ex rel. Morrison v. Beck Energy Corp. At issue are the state laws which give the Ohio Department of Natural Resources sole and exclusive authority to regulate(…)

Federal Judge Allows Northeast Upgrade to Proceed

A federal district judge recently rejected a request by the New Jersey Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians for an injunction to stop Kinder Morgan Inc.’s construction of a portion of the Northeast Upgrade Project, a $400 million natural gas(…)

Surface Owner Cannot Preclude Drilling By Undertaking Environmental Analysis

In Minard Run Oil Co. v. U.S. Forest Service, the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania confirmed that the Forest Service did not have authority to preclude drilling by the owner of subsurface oil and gas rights while t(…)

New York’s Highest Court Asked to Review Cases Upholding Local Bans on Gas Drilling

Lawyers for parties challenging local gas drilling bans enacted in two upstate towns filed briefs on May 31, 2013 asking the New York Court of Appeals to review recent intermediate appellate court decisions.  Permission to review the decisions is requ(…)

Court Clarifies What Constitutes "Commencement Of Drilling"

Last week, in Good Will Hunting Club, Inc. v. Range Resources-Appalachia, LLC, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania held that a landowner (Good Will) was bound by a five-year extension clause in an oil and gas lease that it(…)

District Court Delays Submission of Reasonable Surface Use Issue to WVSCA

Last month District Court Judge Irene Keeley, sitting in the Northern District of West Virginia, sought to have the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals (WVSCA) rule upon whether West Virginia law permits a natural gas producer to use a surface owne(…)

W.Va. Couple Lose Battle to Cancel Oil and Gas Lease in 4th Circuit Appeal

On May 7th the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the arguments of Martha and Charles Wellman and upheld the validity of a “legacy” oil and gas lease.  The lease provided for royalty payments on production and a flat-rate rental payment.  The mi(…)

New York Appeals Court Upholds Municipal Bans On Natural Gas Drilling

In two decisions issued on May 2, 2013, a New York State intermediate appellate court held that the New York Oil, Gas, and Solution Mining Law (“OGSML”) does not preempt a municipality’s authority to enact a zoning ordinance to prohibit natural gas dr(…)

PHMSA Hails Authority to Inspect NGL Plants

In a press release issued earlier today, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) stated that a recent federal court decision confirms its authority to inspect natural gas liquids (NGL) pla(…)

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Delivers Butler v. Powers Opinion

On April 24, 2013, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued an opinion in the case of Butler v. Powers, addressing the distinction between the words “gas” and “minerals” in private conveyances of land in Pennsylvania.  The case began as a quiet title(…)

Environmental Groups Drop Free Speech Lawsuit Against New York Town

Environmental groups recently announced that they are dropping a First Amendment lawsuit filed against the Town of Sanford, New York, because earlier this month the town repealed a September 2012 resolution that banned the public discussion of natural(…)

Third Local Ban on Gas Drilling Upheld by New York Court

On March 15, 2013, the Town of Avon reportedly became the third upstate New York municipality to prevail in a court challenge of a local zoning ordinance banning gas drilling.  The trial court rejected the argument that New York’s Oil, Gas and Solutio(…)

New York Local Drilling Ban Cases Proceed to Appellate Review

A mid-level New York State appellate court recently heard oral arguments in reviewing two trial court decisions which upheld municipal zoning laws that ban oil and gas drilling within the upstate towns of Dryden and Middlefield.  The appeals focus on(…)

Pennsylvania Pipeline Protest Halted by Injunction

According to recent press reports, President Judge Joseph F. Kameen of the Pike County (Pennsylvania) Court of Common Pleas has granted an injunction to prevent protestors from interfering with the construction of a gas pipeline in northeastern Pennsy(…)