Fracking Insider Readers: We are pleased to bring you Volume 14 of our State Regulatory Roundup, including updates in North Carolina, Texas, Maryland and Ohio. As we explained in earlier volumes, we designed the Roundup to provide quick overviews on state regulatory activity. If you have any questions on any of these summaries, please do not hesitate to ask.
North Carolina – On February 27, 2013, the North Carolina Senate approved S.B. 76, a bill that would allow the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) to start issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing by March 2015. This legislation follows a 2012 bill (2012-143) that lawmakers passed over a veto by former Gov. Perdue that established the MEC, but did not then vest it with authority to issue permits. S.B. 76 also allows for the underground injection of wastewater and repeals a requirement in 2012-143 that required state registration of landmen. The bill, which passed 39-7, is now before the North Carolina House.
Maryland – On February 7, 2013, a group of Maryland lawmakers introduced legislation to institute an 18-month ban hydraulic fracturing in the state. The bill would augment the current moratorium on hydraulic fracturing imposed by Gov. O’Malley’s executive order in 2011. The bill also calls for a risk assessment and calls on regulators to develop new rules before issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing operations.
Texas – In November 2012, Texas reported its highest oil production level in 25 years – 2.1 million barrels per day. That increase, 71 percent in the past two years, is directly attributable to the use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin. Prior to the widespread use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, oil production was declining in the Lone Star State.
Ohio – On February 20, 2012, the Youngstown City Council approved a measure that would include on the May 7, 2012 primary ballot a referendum to ban hydraulic fracturing within city limits. The city council acknowledged that, even if passed, the ban may not be enforceable as Ohio regulations preempt local ordinances banning the technology. Local preemptions issues such as these are increasing in frequency and have been the subject of high profile disputes in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and New York.