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Through the use of a new technology, known as horizontal high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” large reserves of previously noneconomic oil and gas trapped in tight shale rock formations are now commercially exploitable. Many communities overlying potentially profitable shale formations have been targeted by extraction companies for leasing. Yet even as the leases are secured, the process remains controversial, as concerns over the possibility of groundwater contamination, air pollution, and industrialization of rural environs persist.
Faced with budget cuts and staff reductions, AGs turn to outside counsel to leverage public resources, handle complex matters that require specialized expertise, and level the playing field against well-resourced adversaries. But the practice of hiring contingency-fee counsel has its critics. Targets of AG enforcement actions cite ethical concerns and challenge the AGs’ power to retain counsel. This past summer brought three major developments relating to AGs hiring private counsel.
The U.S. Supreme Court certainly kept court-watchers in suspense: the last few days in June had almost everyone guessing as to when the rulings in the blockbuster cases would be released and what they would be.