Hydraulic Fracturing – Local Legislatures On their Own

A piece of legislation that was contested was centered in the town of Middlefield in Otsego County, which is located in New York State. The town of Middlefield had passed local zoning and ordinance that prohibited operations related to heavy industry including drilling for gas and oil. This legislation was challenged in court a few months later by a land owner who had leased over 300 acres of land to a gas company for drilling. The landowner stated in her suit that the laws enacted denied her aka Cooperstown Holstein Corporation, the economic benefits of the leases which included a right to market its minerals, oil and natural gas.

Comparatively speaking the Middlefield case is a situation in which the local municipality enacted laws prohibiting operations related to fracturing and in this instance they were upheld by the local courts.

In reviewing the legislation in all three; Pennsylvania Act 13, Vermont’s Ban on fracturing  and the local zoning ordinance in Middlefield, New York,  it is clear that the lack of federal regulation and guidelines specifically related to the hydraulic fracturing industry is creating a hodgepodge of local laws and ordinances that will, if left unchecked lead to inconsistent regulation of an industry that has potential to yield alternative energy sources that could ostensibly lead to energy independence for this country. Lack of federal legislation will lead to no uniformity of regulations, some places like Vermont will ban the practice outright, some places like Pennsylvania may allow for it under intense scrutiny.

Local municipalities will be on their own and as more information about the Hydraulic fracturing industry becomes widely available and gas prices continue to rise, there will wind up being a complete free for all as states and local governments scramble to protect their residents and shield themselves from liability while protecting their local environment and natural resources.



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