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Legislators to Cities: Give Us Your Input on Natural Gas Extraction

June 07, 2012

In passing the natural gas extraction bill yesterday, Senators voted to legalize the industry, but only after years of writing regulations and consulting with various groups, including local governments.
 
The bill, now headed to the House of Representatives for consideration by that chamber, sets up the structures for addressing the myriad environmental, community protection, financial, and consumer protection issues that accompany legalization of the natural gas extraction industry. Most prominently, a reorganized Mining & Energy Commission would write most of the rules, which would then go to the legislature for approval before going into effect.
 
In tandem with the rulemaking process, local governments, through the League and the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, would participate in three separate stakeholder groups. Two of these groups -- one studying the issue of local ordinances to regulate the industry, with the other studying funding of local impacts by the industry -- would make recommendations to a new Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy for legislation. A third and larger stakeholder group would include the League in discussions that would lead to the rulemaking proposals for the Mining & Energy Commission.

Initial drafts of this bill had completely removed both city and county governments' authority to use land use or nuisance ordinances to control impacts of this new industry on their communities. The League strongly opposed this removal of municipal authority, speaking in committee in favor of retaining a city government's ability to regulate. Also, two Senators from Wake County, Sen. Richard Stevens and Sen. Josh Stein, expressed concerns in a committee meeting last week about the lack of local control over a presumably heavy-impact industry.
 
The bill passed the Senate despite concerns from environmental and consumer protection interests that more study is necessary before moving forward with the rulemaking that will allow natural gas extraction activities to begin.
 
Read this article from WRAL to learn more about the Senate floor debate yesterday.

Posted on June 07, 2012 by Erin Wynia