Tuesday, September 29, 2015

North Carolina County Adopts a Temporary Local Moratorium on Hydraulic Fracturing

On September 28, 2015, the Stokes County Board of Commissioners approved a three-year moratorium on oil and gas development activities using hydraulic fracturing. This temporary moratorium will prevent the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) from issuing drilling permits that allow shale gas exploration and production within Stokes County.

On August 17, 2015, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners adopted an ordinance instituting a two-year moratorium on oil and gas development activities requiring the use of hydraulic fracturing. The Board of Commissioners for a third county – Lee County – also is reportedly considering the imposition of such a moratorium.

On June 4, 2014, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed the Energy Modernization Act into law authorizing the issuance of permits for oil and gas exploration and development activities using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing treatments. This Act lifted a statewide moratorium adopted in 2012. In May 2015, however, the Wake County Superior Court enjoined the state from continuing the drilling permit application process for hydraulic fracturing. This decision was issued as a result of a claim brought by Governor McCrory against the General Assembly challenging the constitutionality of the Act’s provisions governing the appointments of the members of the MEC. The North Carolina General Assembly has appealed to the state Supreme Court. 

Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow

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