State Bill undercuts local move to temporarily halt fracking

(Winston-Salem Journal) The effects of Senate Bill 119 are becoming clearer now that the public has had time to review it — and it does not bode well for local governments that want to implement their own land-use regulations in the face of possible shale-gas exploration and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. A provision in the bill aims to pre-empt local governments from implementing regulations that go beyond state regulations. Meaning: If a County needs time to review state regulations to come up with its own land-use regulations, but such local land-use regulations are confined to state regulations, then there is no need for those local land-use regulations. “In general, I think the legislature has made it very clear that it intends to have only state-level regulation of oil and gas, and I think a court faced with a case challenging a local moratorium or anti-fracking ordinance will almost certainly find there is no more local power to focus particularly on those operations,” Richard Whisnant, a professor of public law and policy at the UNC School of Government said.

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