Fracking received much attention and debate in the fourth quarter. Fracking is the process of injecting large amounts of water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressures in order to release oil and natural gas into underground rock formations.

On December 17, 2014, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his administration’s plan to ban fracking due to health concerns. His decision follows a presentation by New York state health commissioner finding “significant public health risks” linked to fracking. See Thomas Kaplan, Citing Health Risks, Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York State, The New York Times (Dec. 17, 2014).

Contrasting New York’s decision, North Carolina’s Oil and Gas Rules and Review Commission approved new fracking rules and the state legislature is expected to lift North Carolina’s fracking moratorium. See John Murawski, NC Rules Review Commission approves fracking standards, News & Observer (Dec. 17, 2014).

A long awaited study on the risks posed by fracking is estimated to be released by the EPA in early 2015. See Letter from United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8, Philip S. Strobel, Acting Director, NEPA Compliance and Review, Office of Ecosystems Protection and Remediation, Ref. No. 8EPR-N (Oct. 17, 2014) (on file with EPA).