Hydraulic Fracturing Update
New York Home Rule Power To Curb Fracking Upheld
In Lenape v. Town of Avon et al., case number 1060-2012, in New York State Supreme Court, Livingston County, a trial judge has thrown out Lenape Resources Inc.'s attempt to overturn the town of Avon's one-year moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing. This decision comes after the court previously upheld the towns of Dryden and Middlefield’s efforts to curb fracking. Those decidions are being appealed. The Lenape’ suit sought damages based upon a takings, with the company claiming it lost business because of the loss of mineral rights. The court held that New York state court precedents have established that local bans based in zoning laws don't amount to attempts to regulate the oil and gas industry and therefore aren't pre-empted by the state's Oil Gas and Solution Mining Law.
Expansion Beyond Four Year De Facto Moratorium On Fracking In New York Unlikely
Recently proposed legislation pushing to block permits for high-volume hydraulic fracturing gas wells until mid-2015 is not likely going anywhere fast. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that bills extending the state's current, de facto moratorium would likely die in the state Senate. The governor made the comments at a news conference when asked if he would sign a measure like the one that overwhelmingly passed the New York State Assembly on March 6. He predicted that the nominally Republican-controlled New York State Senate, which is run by minority Republicans along with a bloc of Independent Democrats, will not pass any limits on fracking that go beyond a four-plus year de facto moratorium that already is in place. The bills have been floated in order to keep a fracking expansion at bay while studies about the potential health impacts are completed.
Congressmen Introduce Legislation To Impose CAA and CWA Upon Hydraulic Fracturing Industry
Two Democratic congressmen on Thursday introduced legislation they claimed would ensure that the hydraulic fracturing industry follows the same pollution rules as other industries. One of the two bills, H.R. 1154, would amend the Clean Air Act to remove provisions allowing separate oil and gas wells in the same area to be treated as separate sources of emissions and add hydrogen sulfide gas to a list of hazardous pollutants, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. The other, H.R. 1175, will alter the Clean Water Act to remove a construction and operations exemption allowing oil and gas companies to avoid having to apply for stormwater runoff permits, as well as mandating a study on the effects of hydraulic fracturing, on surface water, its sponsor, Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., said. The bills are unofficially titled the Bringing Reductions to Energy's Airborne Toxic Health Effects Act, or the Breathe Act, and the Focused Reduction of Effluence and Stormwater runoff through Hydraulic Environmental Regulation Act, or Fresher Act. The Lawmakers claim these loopholes had allowed oil and gas operators to work exempt from the “protections” of environmental laws designed to protect health and safety. Under the terms of the Breathe Act a section of the CAA allowing oil wells to be treated as individual sources for various pollution determinations, even if in the same area and under common control, would be excised.The bill would also add hydrogen sulfide often found alongside gas and oil from fracking wells to a list of hazardous air pollutants under the statute. The Fresher Act would strike a section of the Clean Water Act allowing stormwater runoff from oil and gas operations without operators being required to apply for a permit.
The Law Office of Christopher D. Hopkins LLC counsels clients on a broad range of environmental issues. Should you wish for a free consultation to discuss natural gas exploration and / or hydraulic fracturing issues, please feel to contact us.
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