Case Studies

Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association

Partners Tim McCrum and
Dan Wolff; and retired partner Michael Klise
Counsel Tom Lundquist.
Associate Providence Spina.

What Our Clients Say:
"Crowell & Moring scored wins for us in the federal district and appellate courts in major environmental litigation with the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. Forest Service and the Sierra Club, significantly improving the oil and gas industry's ability to operate in the Allegheny National Forest, a four-county portion of the Marcellus-Utica shale region in western Pennsylvania. The legal work they did for us was excellent, and they helped us to achieve great results against formidable opponents."

- Craig Mayer, Secretary, Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association

Drilling down to the heart of the matter

Privately held oil and gas and mineral rights underlie over 93 percent of the Allegheny National Forest (ANF), within the broader Marcellus Shale region that's becoming one of the largest natural gas producing areas in the nation. For years, oil and gas mineral rights owners and the ANF worked together to allow for oil and gas development while paying close attention to environmental protection. In 2009, a sweetheart settlement agreement between the federal government and the Sierra Club and other similar groups shut down new drilling proposals.

The Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA) turned to Crowell & Moring because of our track record of successful litigation involving the federal government and environmental regulatory issues, and natural resource development.

ANF oil and gas interests, joined by Warren County, Pa., brought suit in June 2009, and sought a preliminary injunction against the threatened multi-year shutdown in new oil and gas development.

The U.S. District Court for Western Pennsylvania granted preliminary injunction to PIOGA by December 15, 2009 barring implementation of the 2009 settlement agreement that the U.S. Justice Department had entered into on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service with the Sierra Club and other environmental groups. The preliminary injunction was affirmed in 2011 by the 3rd Circuit federal court of appeals, and a final judgment vacating the Sierra Club settlement was entered by the federal district court in September 2012. In September 2013, the 3rd Circuit unanimously affirmed the 2012 final judgment.

This case literally opened up 500,000 acres of valuable oil and gas property to new oil and gas drilling, and provided judicial relief to protect jobs and property rights. The significance of the rulings is far-reaching as it enhances industry’s ability to challenge federal settlements and regulatory delays, as well as assist business interests that seek to preliminarily enjoin federal overreaching in other contexts.