Portal:Water/Key State News

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  • Pennsylvania: On February 14, 2012, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed into law Act 13, which Alternet reporter Steven Rosenfeld said could be "the nation's worst corporate giveaway." The law benefits the "natural" gas industry in a host of ways. It revokes local zoning authority to discourage oil and gas development. Under the law, municipalities can adopt rules on drilling, but cannot ban it. They must also revise local ordinances to allow drilling in order to receive payment under the new per-well impact fee. The law allows the state’s Public Utilities Commission to overturn local zoning and decide whether a community is eligible for a share in impact fee revenues. It also gives the "natural" gas industry the ability to seize private property for a drilling operation.
  • Ohio: On New Year’s Eve 2011, a 4.0 magnitude earthquake was recorded in Ohio. This and a series of other quakes in the region have been linked to a disposal well for injecting wastewater used in the fracking process by seismologists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Wastewater from the fracking process is either recycled or trucked off site to be injected in a deep underground well. As the pressurized water is pushed below ground it can cause earthquakes on ancient faultlines. In response to the findings, the state is considering tougher rules on drilling. Governor John Kasich has been a strong proponent of fracking.
  • New York: In 2010, a moratorium on fracking in the state was put in place, but a plan to lift it, advanced by Governor Andrew Cuomo, could change this. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation received thousands of comments from the public in response to these plans to open up 85 percent of the state to fracking. The open comment period ended in January 2012 and the decision is expected to follow in a few months. In June 2012 the New York Times reported that, according to senior officials at the State Department of Environmental Conservation, Gov. Cuomo would likely limit drilling to the deepest areas of the Marcellus Shale rock formation — primarily Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben and Tioga Counties. Drilling would be permitted only in towns that agree to it, and would be banned in Catskill Park, aquifers, and nationally designated historic districts. The strategy has not been made final and details could change, contingent on hydraulic fracturing receiving final approval from state regulators.[1] Critics say drilling would primarily take place in economically distressed areas in need of the funds, raising issues of environmental justice.[2]
  • Wyoming: In December 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency linked chemicals from fracking and groundwater pollution in Wyoming. This is the first time that the federal agency has drawn these conclusions. "Gasland" Director Josh Fox was arrested while trying to film a House Science Committee hearing on the EPA's investigation of this possible water contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming.
  • Vermont: In January 2012, the House Water Resources committee approved a bill that would put a three-year moratorium on fracking in Vermont.
  • Wisconsin: While there is no actual fracking in the state, Wisconsin has become a target for the oil and gas industry for its silica sand. The sand is injected in the ground, along with the water and chemicals, and is used to hold open the crevices while the gas and oil is released. The sand is most easily accessible in the state of Wisconsin, which means the industry is looking to scrape the Midwestern state of it's rolling hills by extracting its sand. This new scramble for sand mining has local residents concerned about the health and environmental impacts on their communities.
  • North Carolina: Fracking is currently not allowed in North Carolina, but the state is in the process of studying the potential impacts of it with the final report expected in May.
  • California: The Monterey Shale, located in California, is five times larger than the Eagle Ford shale in Texas. The US Energy Information Association believes there are 15.4 billion barrels of oil to be extracted in the shale, which equals about 64% of all recoverable shale oil in the continental U.S. The shale runs from northern California to Los Angeles. While fracking has not been widely used, land is starting to be leased to start with the process. In December 2011, The Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit challenging the federal Bureau of Land Management's leasing of more than 2,500 acres in Monterey and Fresno counties for oil and gas development, which would include fracking.
  • Texas: New Texas fracking disclosure rules went into effect February 2012, which required drillers to reveal the amount of water needed for each oil and gas well and the chemicals used in the process.
  • Michigan: Devon Energy, an energy company based in Oklahoma, received $2.2 billion from China in January 2012 to expand it's fracking operations, particularly in Michigan.
  • Danny Hakim, "Cuomo Plan Would Limit Gas Drilling to a Few Counties in New York," New York Times, June 13, 2012.
  • Alyssa Figueroa, "Revealed: NY Governor Plans to Experiment with Fracking in Economically Struggling Areas," Alternet, June 16, 2012.