Cities Try to Regulate Fracking

June 6, 2014

The Wall Street Journal reports that communities are beginning to regulate fracking more closely. Until now, oil and gas wells using hydraulic fracturing have popped up across states, with drilling in subdivisions, airports and even golf courses. With leasing rights or ownership of the minerals underground, companies have been able to drill relatively freely.

But some cities have begun using zoning laws to keep fracking at a distance.

  • North Dakota, home to the fracking boom, is considering instituting permits for drilling near historical sites and parks.
  • Debate over fracking limits has raged in Pennsylvania as well as Colorado. So far, five Colorado cities have banned fracking, and litigation is pending.
  • In Denton, a town just north of Dallas, Texas, voters will see a proposed fracking ban on their ballots in November.

Much of the debate has been between cities and states, and courts have often ruled that states can trump local ordinances.

  • In 2005, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state of Louisiana could prevent Shreveport from instituting a drilling ban.
  • This year, the Ohio Supreme Court will rule on whether cities or states ultimately have authority over the issue. The appellate court ruled in favor of the state after an Ohio city tried to put limits on drilling.
  • In 2012, however, Pennsylvania passed a law prohibiting townships from using their zoning laws to regulate fracking. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down parts of the law, giving power back to the local communities.

Source: Russell Gold, "The Fracking Fight's New Front Line," Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2014.  

 

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