Action Alert (Expired)
May 2014 – Once again, North Carolina legislators are trying to move North Carolina closer to fracking by pre-approving rules written by the Mining and Energy Commission.
SB 786, also known as the Energy Modernization Act, would pre-approve fracking regulations and allow fracking permits to be issued July 1, 2015.
Tell your legislator that reducing company liability and pre-approving fracking regulations are not policies that protect North Carolina!
The bill is a mixed bag for landowners. It weakens some existing protections while also leaving out common-sense protections.
Details about SB 786:
· Companies would be liable for water contamination within a one-half mile radius around a well. This nearly lets companies off the hook, reducing the area where they will be presumed responsible for contamination by more than 70% from current legal liability.
Marginally Improved Protections
· Fracking chemical mixtures protected by trade secret law must now be disclosed to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. By eliminating a third party, emergency response times will likely be reduced. However, mistaken release of the information would come with an extremely harsh penalty.
· Companies are required to give 30-day notice before subsurface entry, which ensures landowners know when development begins under their property.
What the Bill Doesn’t Address
Surface Use Agreements: The bill does not require surface use agreements before any land disturbing activities can begin. Currently, mineral rights owners have the right to access and develop their minerals through the surface property, even if they do not own the surface. Requiring surface use agreements would give the surface owner the right to say no.
Forced Pooling: The bill does nothing to protect landowners from forced pooling, also known as compulsory pooling. Current law allows companies to force landowners into a lease if enough of their neighbors leased voluntarily. This is an unfair and completely unnecessary practice when using unconventional methods of drilling for natural gas. Legislators should act to prevent the forced pooling of any landowner in North Carolina.