MOUNDSVILLE – Gastar Exploration's motion to dismiss has been granted in a lawsuit involving Eagle Natrium's claims that the Gastar's fracking activity was dangerous.

On Dec. 9, a hearing was held and, after hearing oral argument from counsel, the court ruled that the standards of preliminary injunction in Pennsylvania and West Virginia are essentially the same, and, because Eagle voluntarily sought out the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania courts and cannot now seek the same injunctive relief against Gastar in West Virginia that it was denied in Pennsylvania.

"Accordingly, this court finds that Eagle is both collaterally and judicially estopped from pursuing its claims against Gastar as a result of the preliminary injunction decision rendered in the Pennsylvania action," the order states. "Either finding is sufficient basis for this dismissal."

The order granting temporary restraining order against Gastar is dissolved and the findings are vacated, according to the Dec. 24 order of dismissal.

The temporary restraining order ordered Gastar to cease and desist from any fracking activity pursuant to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's Oct. 27 order, and ordered the WVDEP to cease and desist from enforcing its Oct. 27 order that set forth operational amendments to the permits issued to Gastar for three separate wells and the related permits.

The lawsuit against WVDEP secretary Randy C. Huffman and Gastar was filed by Eagle Natrium LLC on Oct. 30 in Marshall Circuit Court.

Eagle claimed it requested the WVDEP and Gastar to heed its concerns over significant threat of hazard to safety of persons or damage to publicly owned lands or resources from WVDEP's authorization of Gastar's proposed hydraulic fracturing operations within the vicinity of the Ohio River and of its brine cavern that had recently been damaged.

Eagle met with the WVDEP to express its concerns and request for relief on May 5 and June 18, and, in response, the WVDEP issued two orders amending the Gastar permit allowing operations to continue and requiring Eagle to monitor in case of damage caused by the fracturing operations, offering no consideration to safety to persons or damage to publicly owned lands or resources to include the Ohio River, according to the suit.

Gastar is a party to a gas lease and operations agreement with PPG as original lessor, under which Eagle provided Gastar with notice of the damage caused by nearby stimulation activity and requested that Gastar desist from conducting hydraulic fracturing or other activity at the Goudy Wells while the parties to the agreement investigated the risk the activity would pose on Eagle's brine fields.

On April 22, Eagle filed a complaint before the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pa., against Gastar, invoking the provisions of the agreement to seek an injunction and relief.

On Oct. 16, the Pennsylvania court issued an order that denied Eagle's motion for preliminary injunction.

Eagle was represented by Michael O. Callaghan of Neely & Callaghan.

Gastar was represented by Andrew G. Fusco, George A. Patterson III, Elisabeth A. Slater and Michael C. Cardi of Bowles Rice LLP.

The case is assigned to Circuit Judge David Hummel Jr.

Marshall Circuit Court case number: 14-C-179

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