The Scramble to Regulate Fracking

North Carolina, now open for fracking. Photo by US Fish and Wildlife Service, some rights reserved.

As the risks and potential benefits of fracking become impossible to ignore for local and state governments, communities are taking action to address the shale gas development that seems inevitable in many places. At the state level, North Carolina’s legislature voted to override Governor Beverly Perdue’s veto of Senate Bill 820, opening the doors to fracking and shale gas development in North Carolina and establishing a regulatory framework. In addition, Colorado local governments are attempting to address air quality issues from hydraulic fracturing and imposing temporary moratoriums.

In North Carolina, Governor Perdue vetoed the fracking legislation for its inadequate environmental protection, though she expressed support for shale gas development in general. To override a veto requires a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers of the General Assembly. The Senate voted 29 to 13 to override the veto, and with Republicans needing every last vote in the House of Representatives, a five-term Democrat accidentally pushed the wrong button to open the state to fracking. A do-over was not granted, perhaps because the vote took place late Monday night in a marathon 36-hour legislative session. Details on the legislation can be found in a McGuireWoods memo here.

Separately, (thanks to a Davis Graham & Stubbs memo for its insight) local governments in Colorado have imposed temporary moratoriums banning fracking until better regulations addressing air quality and other environmental impacts are developed. Localities in Colorado cannot ban oil and gas operations altogether, but many are stepping up their efforts to regulate environmental impacts associated with oil and gas operations, an area whose jurisdiction is uncertain. Colorado and other states are trying to pass statewide legislation to preempt local regulation, but the jurisdictional uncertainty remains for now.

One response to this post.

  1. […] July, we wrote about the scramble to regulate fracking. Last month, California entered the fray, releasing a “discussion draft” of hydraulic […]


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