New York’s highest court dealt a blow to the hydrofracking industry on June 30 when it upheld, in a consolidated opinion in Matter of Wallach v. Town of Dryden and Cooperstown Holstein Corp. v. Town of Middlefield, the authority of municipalities to use their zoning powers to ban hydrofracking. The Court of Appeals held that provisions on the towns’ zoning ordinances that prohibited hydrofracking anywhere within their borders were not preempted by the “supersession clause” of the state’s Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law (OGSML). That clause, said the Court, prevents municipalities from regulating the “how” of hydrofracking but does not bar them from limiting “where” it can take place.
On November 28, 2012, New York State confirmed that its health assessment of the proposed regulations governing hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” being conducted by a panel of three leading public health experts, would be delayed. Immediately thereafter, the State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) filed for a 90-day extension of the November 29, 2012, regulatory deadline for finalizing fracking regulations.
As we reported this past December and January, last year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft report that linked contamination found in wells near Pavillion, Wyoming to the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. A report prepared for an oil and gas industry group, however, says the EPA study was deeply flawed.
In December, we reported on the release of a draft report from United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development on a possible link between groundwater contamination in some Wyoming wells and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) activity in the area. Now, as promised, EPA is initiating an independent assessment of the report by outside peer reviewers.
A draft report from United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development has tentatively pointed a finger at hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) as a cause of groundwater contamination detected in a number of wells near the town of Pavillion, Wyoming. The report, which has not yet undergone outside peer review, is likely to set off alarm bells among both proponents and opponents of fracking, including those in eastern states like New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
An 1881 deed and an 1882 Supreme Court decision formed the background for a very modern controversy recently addressed by the Pennsylvania Superior Court. The decision, Butler v. Estate of Powers, casts a shadow over ownership rights in natural gas contained in the Marcellus Shale formation, and has left many companies in the “fracking” industry uncertain about what they own.