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Shale & Fracking Tracker

News & Flashes

  • 14
  • May
  • 2015

New York Releases Final SGEIS on Fracking

Following the December 2014 recommendation of the New York Department of Health (“DOH”) that New York not move forward with high-volume hydraulic fracturing (“HVHF”), the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) published its Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (“SGEIS”) on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program on May 13, 2015. The final SGEIS includes analysis of additional data regarding both the economic impacts of HVHF and its potential environmental and health-related impacts. The final SGEIS generally considered significantly expanding upon many of the mitigation measures previously proposed in earlier drafts, including a prohibition against HVHF on private lands, an expansion of sensitive areas where HVHF would be prohibited, additional site-specific environmental assessments, and increased setback and buffer requirements. However, the SGEIS concludes that implementation of these measures would result in a significant portion of the Marcellus Shale being unavailable for HVHF operations and impose additional costs on operators, thereby impacting the potential economic benefits associated with HVHF in New York.

The DEC Commissioner will issue a legally binding “findings statement,” which is expected to call for an outright ban on HVHF, after 10 days. Read the full final SGEIS here.

  • 02
  • July
  • 2014

New York Municipalities Can Prohibit Fracking, Says State High Court

The New York Court of Appeals, the State's highest court, concluded recently that two towns, Dryden and Middlefield, could use local zoning laws to ban hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas activities within their municipal boundaries.  The court grounded its decision in the state's Municipal Home Rule Law, which empowers municipalities to pass laws for the protection and enhancement of their physical and visual environment and the safety, health, and well-being of their residents and property. Opponents to the local bans argued that the "supersession clause" of the state's Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law preempts local zoning law such that the towns lacked the authority to proscribe natural gas activities. The court rejected this argument, holding that the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law's supersession clause was not a clear expression of State Legislature intent to preempt local zoning law. Read the opinion here.

  • 04
  • October
  • 2012

Recent New York State Court Decision Overturns Ban on Gas Exploration and Drilling In Binghamton, New York

State Supreme Court Justice Ferris Lebous' opinion invalidates a Local Law implemented in the City of Binghamton that prohibits gas drilling. The opinion notes the lack of evidence demonstrating a "dire need" that would warrant invocation of the City's police power to ban gas exploration. However, Lebous did follow recent New York decisions declining to find preemption of local government regulations banning drilling. Even so, this decision could suggest another avenue for petitioners seeking to overturn drilling bans. Read the opinion here.

  • 19
  • June
  • 2012

Second Circuit Denies Petition to Review FERC's Approval of Proposed New York Pipeline

On June 12, 2012, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied the petition of various environmental groups to review the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's approval of Central New York Oil and Gas Company's proposed natural gas pipeline. The groups argued that FERC failed to properly address the cumulative impacts of the project under the National Environmental Policy Act, specifically, the environmental impacts of increased hydraulic fracturing and development in the Marcellus shale. The Second Circuit found that those impacts were not "sufficiently causally-related to the project to warrant a more in-depth analysis." Read the order here.

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