On January 20, 2015, Pulaski County, Arkansas Circuit Judge Herbert Wright ruled the Arkansas Criminal Eviction Statute (Ark. Code. Ann. § 18-16-101 et. seq.) violated the State and Federal Constitutions in the case of State v. Artoria Smith, 60CR-14-2707. Long hated by social justice activists, the criminal eviction statute was the last of its kind in the United States. Small landlords and landlords who offer properties to lower income Arkansans relied on the statute to avoid costly legal fees and provide a deterrent to tenants who have no intention of paying after gaining occupancy of the premises. The full case docket with links to pdf copies of the motions, briefs and opinions are here. Watch Arkansas real estate and eviction attorney Mark Robinette’s commentary on the Smith decision below:
Arkansas real estate lawyer/attorney Mark Robinette shows you how to find free real estate ownership information using http://www.google.com and http://www.actdatascout.com/. In Arkansas, county real estate assessments provide a wealth of information about property ownership, improvements and taxation. It is a great way to start a title search or to just find out about your neighbors.
Robinette, Miners & Ivester member Greg Ivester will deliver a continuing legal education presentation on raising capital for oil and gas transactions. The presentation will be part of the 53rd annual Arkansas Bar Association Natural Resources Institute held February 27 and 28, 2014, at the Hot Springs Convention Center in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Mr. Ivester’s presentation will cover aspects of state and federal securities laws that affect dealmaking the oil and gas industry. Does your deal require registration under the securities laws? What are the penalties for failing to register? These questions and more will be addressed by Mr. Ivester. To register, please see the website of the Arkansas Bar Association: http://www.arkbar.com/cle/clelisting.aspx. Non-members may register using the code CLE 739.
Mark Robinette will again deliver the Arkansas oil and gas law update at the Ark-La-Tex Association of Professional Landmen annual conference in Shreveport, Louisiana. Mr. Robinette’s presentation will cover legislation, appellate court opinons, and rule changes relevant to landmen and oil and gas operators in Arkansas. The past year saw many important cases come through the appellate courts including cases addressing the effectiveness of quiet title decrees, refunding of bonus payments, and rights of parties in possession. Notable legislative changes also occurred. The conference is February 14 and 15, 2014, at the Shreveport Convention Center. More information is available from website of the ALTAPL: www.altapl.org.
Mark Robinette will deliver a continuing education presentation to The Arkansas Banker’s Association Trust Conference on October 23, 2012. The topic of Mr. Robinette’s presentation will be managing mineral interests in Arkansas. The talk is geared towards those acting in a fiduciary capacity. The topics covered include basic oil and gas geology, basic oil and gas technology, oil and gas title, forced pooling, and implied lease covenants.
Mark Robinette will speak at Arkansas Bar Association’s 2012 Best of CLE. The program will be at the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas Little Rock on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. Registration will be through the Arkansas Bar Association. Mr. Robinette’s talk will be on capacity and authority to execute mineral leases and conveyances.
Mid-South Superlawyers Magazine named Mark Robinette to its Rising Star list for Natural Resources and Energy Law. The magazine bestows the honor based on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Superlawyers does not receive payment of any kind for a lawyer to be considered or named to its listings.
Mark Robinette will deliver the annual Arkansas Oil and Gas law update at the annual ArkLaTex Association of Professional Landmen conference on February 9, 2013. Those interested in attending my register throughALTAPL.
In a brief hearing to confirm a consent administrative order, the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission (AOGC) reached an agreement with the operators of two disposal wells in the Enola Swarm seismic zone to immediately cease disposal operations. The wells were located in S17-T8N-R12W and S6-T7N-R12W in Faulkner County, Arkansas.
The order will be in effect until the last day of the March, 2011, AOGC regular hearing. At the regularly scheduled March hearing, the AOGC will hear the entire docket including evidence and public comment. There will be pre-hearing conferences between the AOGC staff and the operating companies prior to the hearing. In giving the consent order, the companies operating the disposal wells admitted no culpability for the recent seismic activity in the vicinity of their wells.
The matter of disposal wells causing seismic activity is under study, and the AOGC placed a moratorium on all new disposal wells in the Enola Swarm area in December 2010. Read more about the docket here. The documents from the December hearing, including an article about the theory of induced seismicity by disposal wells are here: Part1 and Part2.
AOGC staff reiterated that they had no evidence that hydraulic fracturing, a process related to extracting gas from the Fayetteville Shale, had any connection with the seismic activity. Hydraulic fracturing takes place at a much shallower depth than disposal, and the fluids used in fracturing are recovered and not left in the ground. There is speculation that seismic activity related to disposal wells occurs because the disposal fluids remain in the ground at a depth where seismic activity occurs, possibly lubricating faults to induce seismic activity.
Many media outlets, industry representatives, and interested citizens were present at the hearing. Because the order was admitted by consent, no evidence was taken at the hearing.
Following Wyoming’s lead, on September 28, 2010, the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission initiated a rulemaking to require producers to disclose the constituents of hydraulic fracturing fluid. The proposed rule B-19 is up for public comment, and if adopted, it will make Arkansas the second state to require the disclosure of the chemical constituents of fracing fluid.
The proposed rule will apply to all new wells. The rule sets requirements on casing and cementing to protect freshwater aquifers. The requirements include specifications on casing strength, depth, and cementing. The operator will have a duty to report any change in annulus pressure that might indicate a casing failure or any exceeding of the rated casing pressure to the AOGC within 24 hours. Any incident from the prior month will be reported at the next monthly meeting of the AOGC. The commission will have the discretion to take action as it sees fit to remediate the incident and prevent future incidents.
The rule also addresses wastes not already regulated by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. The rule regulates the use of RCRA exempt materials and fluids used in fracturing. This includes storage in leak free containment vessels, reporting of spills, and a report of any spill to the AOGC with immediate remediation.
Under the rule, following the completion of a frac job, the operator must report a considerable amount of physical data regarding the frac job. This includes maximum pump pressure, volumes of fluid, volume of proppant, type of fluid, type of proppant, calculated fracture height. The rule will require the operator to furnish the types of additives in the frac fluid, the name of the additive, MSDS sheets, Chemical Abstract Numbers (CAS), and concentrations of the additives.
Finally, the rule imposes requirements on contractors who engage in hydraulic fracturing. Specifically, the rule mandates that contractors be authorized to do business in Arkansas, file Organization Reports as required by the AOGC, and provide MSDS and CAS numbers for the chemicals used in fracing.
The Wyoming rule requires the operator to file a form prior to initiating a well fracing, and the state retains the right to require testing of the well casing prior to fracing. The operator must provide the state detailed information about the constituents of fracing fluid, but the operator may request confidentiality from public disclosure. Under the rule, the state will know the classification, CAS numbers, rate, and concentration of every constituent of fracing fluid. In addition, the rule requires the operator to keep records of each frac job, including physical measurements of pressure at the surface, downhole, and in the production casing annulus. The operator must report any annulus pressure that exceeds 500 psi immediately. The rule further requires the reporting of the disposition of any fluids recovered from the frac job.
The Arkansas and Wyoming rules are similar in many respects. Their purpose is to collect data regarding critical control points in the frac job which might lead to the intrusion of frac fluids into groundwater, to insure proper storage and disposal of frac fluids, and to inform the public of the exact composition of frac fluid. There is no doubt the new rule will go far to keep the public’s confidence, but it will be a burden on oil and gas producers.
For better or worse, hydraulic fracturing garners controversy. E&P companies should monitor the ongoing EPA study, the Waxman and Markey congressional investigation of fracing, and the any proposed fracing regulations of oil and gas producing states such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania where there are active tight oil and gas plays. If the states take proactive measures to police fracturing and gain the public’s confidence, federal regulation might be avoided.
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The above represents the opinion of the author and not of any organization or group to which the author may belong. This material is general information, and it is not intended to create any lawyer-client relationship. Neither the transmission nor receipt of this information is an offer to extend representation by the author. Any information, opinion, and comment provided herein should not be taken as legal advice or relied upon by the reader for any purpose. The author is licensed in the state of Arkansas. Commentary on cases and law from jurisdictions where the author does not hold license to practice are for demonstrative or scholarly purposes and do not represent the author is licensed or accepts cases in the applicable jurisdiction. If you are need of legal services, you should contact a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.