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4th Circuit Rules in Favor of Chesapeake in Environmental Trespass Case

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September 5, 2013

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond issued an opinion on September 4, affirming a decision by Judge Stamp in the Northern District of West Virginia in a dispute over the burial of drill cuttings.  The landowners filed a trespass and damages case against Chesapeake Appalachia LLC, challenging the practice of burying drill cuttings on-site, as opposed to disposing of the drill cuttings in a landfill.  The court found that West Virginia law requires a fact specific analysis of whether the activities of the oil and gas operator are “reasonably necessary” to the development of the mineral estate.  In this instance, the court concluded that the burial of the drill cuttings and other drill pad development activities was reasonably necessary, despite the evolving practice of disposal off site in a “closed loop” system.  Chesapeake was represented at the District Court and at the Fourth Circuit by Timothy Miller of Robinson & McElwee PLLC.  The opinion can be found here.