On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order (EO) called “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.”  The EO rescinds a host of climate change-related policies and rules instituted by the prior administration, including the Clean Power Plan and the Climate Action Plan. This new energy policy promotes all forms of domestic energy, and, as President Trump stated in the rollout, American energy dominance. The EO, through five policy statements, directs all federal agencies to identify and revise or revoke any rule that “burdens” the energy industry.

Continue Reading Energy Independence is Theme of Trump Environmental Plan

The gloves are off in a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York where an insurer and an oil and gas company disagree about whether the company’s insurance policy covers claims that fracking causes earthquakes. On June 27, 2016, insurer Lloyd’s sued New Dominion, arguing that the Lloyd’s pollution liability policies do not provide coverage because fracking is not a “pollution condition.” (See: Complaint for Declaratory Relief.) The Lloyd’s lawsuit relates to five other Oklahoma lawsuits addressing the same issue. (See: Complaints in Oklahoma lawsuits.)

With this lawsuit, the fracking debate moves into a new arena: insurance coverage disputes.
Continue Reading Fracking Debate Moves into Insurance Realm

On June 4, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft of its landmark study to assess the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water.  U.S. EPA Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources (External Review Draft), EPA, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-15/047, 2015. 
Continue Reading EPA Finds No Widespread Drinking Water Impact from Hydraulic Fracturing

On Monday, February 16, 2015, a sharply divided Ohio Supreme Court held in a 4-3 decision that Ohio local governments do not have authority to enact certain local zoning ordinances restricting hydraulic fracturing. The Court found that an Ohio statute regulating oil and gas well production operations that gives state government “sole and exclusive authority” to regulate such operations does not allow for a municipality to impose its own permit requirements on oil and gas drilling operations.
Continue Reading Ohio Supreme Court Invalidates Local Fracking Restrictions

Schiff Hardin partner Daniel J. Deeb will present during “Illinois’ New Hydraulic Fracturing Rules,” a webinar hosted by Schiff Hardin. Mr. Deeb will address the primary issues to consider when preparing and defending an application filed under the Illinois rules. Lawrence L. Fieber of Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc. will also present.
Continue Reading Illinois’ New Hydraulic Fracturing Rules Webinar

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) on August 29, 2014 filed proposed rules that if adopted, will create additional burdens on companies seeking to extract natural gas in Illinois.  The proposed rules, filed with the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), represent IDNR’s final rules implementing the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory (Act), the comprehensive law which permits, and strictly regulates, high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Illinois.  These new rules (Rules) could be argued to impose requirements well-beyond those expressly provided by the Act and the proposed rules issued by the IDNR on November 13, 2013.  The following are among the ways in which the Rules could be viewed to go beyond requirements of the Act.
Continue Reading IDNR Issues Proposed Final Fracking Rules

On May 9th the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) initiated a process that may result in federal regulation of the fluids used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking).  In the past 10 years, United States production of oil and gas has skyrocketed, due in part to the increased use of fracking technologies that use highpressure injection of fluids, sand, and chemicals to stimulate the release of oil and gas from geological formations which were difficult to access with other techniques.  While fracking technologies have been in use for some time, environmentalists have argued that the public lacked adequate information to assess whether chemicals used in fracking posed represented threats to human health or the environment.
Continue Reading USEPA Takes First Step Toward Possible Federal Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing

A team of Schiff Hardin attorneys compiled “Recent Developments in Toxic Torts and Environmental Law”  for the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal originally published in the fall of 2013 (Vol. 49-1) on the evolving landscape of the environmental and toxic tort areas of law. Toxic tort-related topics covered by this article include class action decisions discussing procedural aspects of damage calculations and whether plaintiffs can stipulate to damages to avoid jurisdiction. Key toxic tort subjects covered in this update include “duty to warn” and medical monitoring, punitive damages, and new asbestos-related decisions.
Continue Reading Recent Developments in Toxic Torts and Environmental Law

Originally published as a Schiff Hardin Environmental Update newsletter

The Illinois General Assembly’s spring 2012 session brought a host of new environmental laws that impact environmental agencies’ administrative responsibilities, impact landfill operations, place additional restrictions on the use of toxic chemicals in Illinois, and address nutrient issues. Just as noteworthy, however, is the number of environmentally related bills that are still considered “active” and may present themselves again during the spring 2013 session. The following are a few highlights from the past legislative session.
Continue Reading New Illinois Environmental Legislation September 2012

Originally published as a Schiff Hardin Environmental Update newsletter

On Thursday, April 26, 2012, the Illinois State Senate unanimously passed a bill, SB 3280, setting standards for the extraction of hydrocarbons from shale using hydraulic fracturing, known as “fracking,” in Illinois. Fracking uses a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to reach underground gas reserves. Drilling activity is expected to occur in southern Illinois near the New Albany Shale formation. SB 3280 has been described as a compromise between the various stakeholders, including industry, landowners and environmental groups.
Continue Reading Illinois Senate Passes Fracking Bill