U.S. Supreme Court Stops Climate Lawsuit by 21 Kids, Temporarily

On Friday we told you that the Trump Dept. of Justice had petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to temporarily stop a court case from advancing to trial next week (see DOJ Asks Supreme Court to Stop Climate Lawsuit by 21 Kids). Lawyers representing a group of 21 children filed a lawsuit in 2015 that aims to force the end of using all fossil fuels in the United States, to address so called man-made global warming. That case survived numerous challenges and was set to go to trial Oct. 29 in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. But on Friday, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts slapped a halt on the case and ordered both sides to give him information by Wednesday of this week. So, we have progress. Still not reason to celebrate, but moving in the right direction.
Continue reading

DOJ Asks Supreme Court to Stop Climate Lawsuit by 21 Kids

Lawyers representing a group of 21 children filed a lawsuit in 2015 that aims to force the end using all fossil fuels in the United States, to address so called man-made global warming (see Group of Kids Sues U.S. Govt to Force Action on “Climate Change”). In January 2017, the kids’ lawyers got to depose the incoming Secretary of State and former ExxonMobil CEO, Rex Tillerson (see Radicalized Kids Suing Over Global Warming to Depose Tillerson). In March of this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit refused to stop this charade (see 9th Circus Allows Climate Lawsuit by Radicalized Kids to Proceed). The Trump Administration continues to try and stop this nonsense. Yesterday the Dept. of Justice asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put a hold on the case.
Continue reading

Mountain Valley Pipe Keeps Building Despite Court Action re Permits

Mountain Valley Pipeline, a project of EQT Midstream, continues to work on constructing its 303-mile long project from West Virginia into Virginia–despite a recent court order overturning some of the permits for the project (see Court Overturns MVP WV Permit; FERC Shutdown Coming Again?). The fact that MVP is working as fast as they can despite a partial shut down has antis fit to be tied. Which puts a broad smile on our face.
Continue reading

Army Corps of Engineers Shuts Down MVP Pipe Work in Virginia

More bad news for EQT Midstream’s Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for MVP in West Virginia (see Court Overturns MVP WV Permit; FERC Shutdown Coming Again?). It’s the second time that permit has been overturned, stopping work at some 591 stream/river crossings the pipeline traverses in WV. Given the permit is overturned in WV, the Army Corps on Friday told MVP to stop work under the same permit in Virginia–affecting another 525 stream and water crossings.
Continue reading

Range Resources Sued by PA Landowner re Post-Production Deductions

In the absence of a guaranteed minimum royalty in Pennsylvania–an issue which continues to divide landowners and drillers–individual landowners are left to litigate in order to get what they are fairly due. Such litigation is time consuming and expensive, and without a certain outcome, which is why most landowners don’t do it. In Washington County, PA a couple who signed a lease with Range Resources have just filed a lawsuit against Range in county court alleging Range violated the terms of the lease by deducting post-production expenses.
Continue reading

Court Overturns MVP WV Permit; FERC Shutdown Coming Again?

We’ve seen this movie before. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (quickly becoming the Fourth Circus) has once again listened to the arguments of anti-fossil fuel groups including the Sierra Club and Chesapeake Climate Action Network and has overturned a recently re-issued permit that allows Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) to use certain methods to build the pipeline across streams and rivers in West Virginia. The court action pretty much shuts down all work on MVP in WV.
Continue reading

Antero Nuisance Case by Surface Landowners Goes to WV Supreme Crt

We’re not quite sure how to tackle this story as there are so many aspects to it. Let’s start here: Two years ago lawsuits filed by some 200 West Virginia residents against Antero Resources were combined into a class action lawsuit. The lawsuits are called “nuisance” lawsuits because, according to the plantiffs, Antero is a nuisance to them (truck traffic, noise, lights at night, etc.). That massive class action lawsuit, filed in early 2016, is about to be heard by the WV Supreme Court–a court in disarray after all of its sitting justices were impeached and removed.
Continue reading

US District Court Throws Out ACP/MVP Eminent Domain Case

We’ve lost track of how many lawsuits have been filed by anti-fossil fuel groups against EQT Midstream’s Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), and Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Among the flood of never-ending lawsuits was a lawsuit against both pipelines from a group of 50 or so landowners who tried to overturn the constitutional use of eminent domain to force hold-out landowners to accept the pipeline. The landowners tried to court-shop and find a court to aide them in their cause. Last Friday the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected that effort.
Continue reading

Robert Murray Exposed as Funding Opposition to WV NatGas Plants

Robert Murray of Murray Energy – the man behind the OVJA curtain

In July MDN brought you an article that exposes the Ohio Valley Jobs Alliance (OVJA) as a front group for Murray Energy–coal people trying to block new natural gas-fired electric plants from getting built in West Virginia (see OVJA Exposed as Front for Murray Energy Blocking Gas-Fired Plants). A new article appearing the the Charleston Gazette-Mail goes deeper, ripping the mask off to reveal Robert Murray (CEO of Murray Energy) as the puppet master pulling the strings of OVJA.
Continue reading

EQT Loses Post-Production Deduction Lawsuit to WV Couple

It’s this kind of story that makes our blood boil–we won’t lie. EQT tried to shaft an elderly couple in Ritchie County, West Virginia out of royalty money by slipping in not only post-production deductions never agreed to in the contract, but also by slipping in a deduction for WV severance taxes owed by EQT itself. Maddening!
Continue reading

CELDF Loses Yet Again – Toledo Anti-Fracking Measure Blocked

In September, MDN told you that the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a ballot measure backed by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) in Columbus, OH, a measure meant to ban fracking to send a “you’re not welcome” message to Utica drillers, is in fact illegal and will not appear on the November ballot (see OH Supreme Court Rules Columbus Anti-Utica Ballot Measure Illegal). The Ohio Supremes have ruled again, this time declaring a similar CELDF ballot measure in Toledo is also illegal.
Continue reading

Federal Judges in Richmond Hear 4 Anti Cases Against MVP, ACP

Line ’em up and knock ’em down. Last Friday a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (in Richmond, VA) heard four cases against Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), one after another, bing bing bing bing. Both pipeline projects, very important to the Marcellus/Utica region, are in various states of litigation, brought on by the odious Sierra Club and co-conspirators like the Southern Environmental Law Center.
Continue reading

OH Supreme Court Rules Independent Landmen Need Real Estate License

Sometimes the law, and justice, is mysterious to us. Last November we told you about an Ohio Supreme Court case with profound implications for both landmen and for the drillers who employ and use them (see OH Supreme Crt Considers Whether Landmen Need Real Estate License). The case, Dundics v. Eric Petroleum Corp., was appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court by Dundics who was not happy with the outcome in lower courts that ruled landmen must have a real estate license in order to get paid for their valuable services. Even more to the point, if you don’t have a real estate licence, the company hiring you (like Eric Petroleum) can decide to not pay you–and it’s OK! The Supremes ruled at the end of August to uphold that principle. That is, if a landman is compensated via a commission and/or royalties for the deals he or she brokers, that person needs to have a real estate license. And if they don’t have such a license, they are considered (under the law) to be committing fraud. (It is our understanding that if the landman is paid a “day rate,” that is, paid a flat rate by the day, or if the landman is an employee of the drilling company, someone whose compensation is not directly tied to the number and value of deals, that landman does not need a real estate license. Please verify that!) The Ohio Supremes decided, in essence, that when you accept a commission or are paid a percentage of each deal, you must have a real estate license. In the case of Dundics v. Eric Petroleum, Mr. Dundics was repeatedly assured (according to the court documents we read) by Eric Petroleum that he (Dundics) would be compensated according to an agreed-on formula. But Dundics didn’t have a real estate license, so Eric Petroleum abrogated the agreement–with the court’s blessing…
Continue reading

4th Circuit Again Blocks NPS Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Last week we told you that the forces of good had overcome the forces of evil–evil being the Sierra Club and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and their mission to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) from getting built (see Victory! FERC Lifts Stop Work Order for Atlantic Coast Pipeline). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stop-work order for ACP in early August came after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals pulled permits for approximately 100 miles of ACP, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Clubbers and SELC (see Federal Court Stops Works on Some (All?) of Atlantic Coast Pipe). The Fourth Circuit overturned permits granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the U.S. National Park Service (NPS), granted to ACP to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway. FWS and NPS reworked and reissued their permits, which is why FERC lifted the stop-work order. Predictably, SELC, on behalf of the Clubbers and a few other far-out leftist groups, filed an appeal with the Fourth Circuit to overturn the newly-reworked permits. The Fourth Circuit has just issued an order temporarily blocking the NPS permit (not the FWS permit), while they consider the new lawsuit. The NPS permit stops 21 miles of pipeline work. The radicals are demanding a new stop-work order from FERC for the entire project (we despise these loathsome people). Dominion isn’t budging–they will keep working everywhere else on the 600+ mile project. Hopefully FERC will not issue a new stop-work order for the entire project…
Continue reading

Mountain Valley Pipeline Cost Goes Up $1.1B, Online by Late 2019

The price tag to build the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline is going up. When first announced, the project, which will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA, was originally estimated to cost $3.5 billion. That number was tweaked this summer to $3.7 billion. Now MVP (i.e. EQT Midstream) says it will cost a whopping $4.6 billion–more than a billion dollars higher than the original estimate. Why the big hike? Two things, says MVP: (1) A work stoppage imposed by the courts and by FERC (thank you Sierra Club), and (2) heavy rain. The rise in cost is due more the former rather than the later. It was only yesterday we ran a story about how much it costs, per mile, to build a major pipeline in the northeast (see How Much Does it Cost to Build a Pipeline in the Northeast?). The costs to build all northeast pipelines continue to rise because of frivolous lawsuits by groups like the Sierra Club (nasty organization). We told you yesterday that it’s costing MVP’s chief competitor, Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline, $8.5 million per mile to build. Doing the math with the new/higher cost, the 303-mile MVP project will cost $15.2 million per mile to build! Ouch. The one bit of good news coming from MVP is that they say the project is still on track to be built and flowing gas by the end of 2019…
Continue reading

Lawyers Make Out Like Bandits in PA O&G Overtime Case

We have a lot of lawyer friends, and lot of loyal MDN readers are lawyers. With all due respect to our lawyer friends and readers, we are outraged at the amount of money awarded to the attorneys in a recent oil and gas case in PA. Let’s back up. This post is primarily a warning to drillers and their contractors to play it straight when it comes to classifying who is exempt from overtime and who is not. You know who’s really “hourly” and who isn’t, and if you screw that up, it will come back to bite you–in a major way. A group of oilfield service workers in western PA were, according to the workers, misclassified as exempt from overtime when working over 40 hours per week. They sued. The details are below, but the short version is that the eight employees who stuck it out until the bitter end won their case. Collectively they got just over $1 million in back wages and “damages.” However (and here’s our outrage), the lawyers got a “reasonable fee” of $2.3 million! Really? It’s “reasonable” that the lawyers got more than twice what the employees got?…
Continue reading