July 2, 2012— Today, the North Carolina General Assembly overrode Governor Perdue’s veto of SB820. The bill legalizes fracking in the state and could allow drilling by 2014.
RAFI was a primary consultant to the Administration as it considered the issues related to landowner rights and fracking. The bill includes many of the landowner protections that we recommended to the State Attorney General’s office in our report. However, SB820 will allow private companies to undermine some key property rights. We have three main concerns about the bill:
It does not prohibit companies from drilling for gas without permission from the mineral rights owner, as long as a certain percentage of the owner’s neighbors have signed gas leases – a practice called forced pooling. The bill does require the state to study the issue of forced pooling.
It makes surface use agreements optional, meaning that landowners who don’t own mineral rights may have no say in how their land is used.
It does not allow time for adequate study of potential impacts, such as whether current state eminent domain laws would allow companies to seize private property to build pipelines to transport extracted gas.
We hope that the state will commit itself to a strong and thorough rule-making process that will address some of these concerns at the regulatory level. We remain committed to working with North Carolina landowners and rural communities to provide the strongest possible protections for their property rights.