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Governor Cuomo Bans Hydraulic Fracturing in New YorkDecember 18, 2014

Following years of debate in New York State and the results of a health study, Governor Andrew Cuomo has banned hydraulic fracturing, often referred to as “fracking,” in New York.  New York’s acting state health commissioner noted significant public health risks with concerns of air and water pollution.  The debate in New York has been extremely heated with citizens along the Pennsylvania border in favor of fracking as a way to increase jobs and help the economy in that area.  Although fracking has gone on for a long time, this issue has drawn major attention over the past couple of years with counties, cities and towns legislating against fracking, including in New York State.  The New York Court of Appeals sided with towns, which had banned fracking, earlier this year.

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New Jersey Governor Vetoes Fracking Bill Banning Waste ProcessingAugust 11, 2014

On Friday, Governor Chris Christie vetoed legislation, which would have banned New Jersey from treating or storing waste products from hydraulic fracturing. The Governor banned a similar measure two years ago.  There is no hydraulic fracturing in New Jersey but it does take place in Pennsylvania and waste has been transported to New Jersey from there.  The Governor insists that this legislation is “an unconstitutional restraint on interstate commerce” because it bans waste from any state and that the bill is intended to “embargo out-of-state waste” in violation of the United States Constitution.  Critics claim that handling the waste in New Jersey is a threat to the State’s waterways and that the Governor is positioning himself for the 2016 Presidential race at the expense of New Jersey citizens.

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New York Local Zoning Law on Fracking Bans Are Not PreemptedJuly 1, 2014

The New York State Court of Appeals decision in Wallach v. Dryden (N.Y., No. 131, 6/30/14) will significantly curtail natural gas fracking operations in the New York State portion of the Marcellus Shale.  The ruling by a large majority of the Court affirmed that local zoning law banning fracking are not preempted by the New York State Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law.  Each town or city can now ban natural gas drilling by fracking through the use of zoning laws as an estimated 170 towns have done already.

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Illinois Passes Fracking LegislationJune 20, 2013

Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois signed into law the "nation's strongest" hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") legislation in the country. The Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act requires, among other things, testing of water before and after drilling as well as disclosure of the chemicals the companies are using. Companies have been conducting fracking in Illinois and the State has worked to draft regulations, which will continue to create jobs while trying to protect the environment. Environmental groups assisted with the creation of the regulations and hope that they will provide protection of the environment.

There is likely to be litigation from anti-fracking groups.

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Hot Topic for 2013...FrackingDecember 26, 2012

With President Obama's re-election, we may see an increase in the activities of the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA"), particularly on energy issues, in 2013. One issue that has already become a hot topic and will continue to be in the news in 2013 is hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"). Fracking is the process whereby fractures are created in rocks and rock formations by injecting fluid into cracks in the rocks. The fracturing allows oil and gas to be released and then extracted. Fracking is very controversial and has come to the forefront everywhere from Hollywood to politics. A movie set to open later this month starring Matt Damon addresses the issue of fracking and the debate between the job opportunities and energy resources it offers versus the potential harm to both people and the environment.

On the political side, seven states plan to sue the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") for failing to address climate change, including enactment of guidelines of regulations for fracking. New Jersey's Governor vetoed an anti-fracking bill earlier this year, which would have prevented any fracking material from being transported across the state. New York recently pushed back its issuance of final regulations on fracking, under fire from environment groups and others, to continue to study the issue and the effect it could have on people and the environment. Earlier this month, three New York Assembly members requested that the state's environmental conservation commissioner withdraw the recently proposed regulations.

To be continued in 2013.....

Happy New Year!!

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Hydraulic Fracturing Put on Hold in New York StateOctober 10, 2012

Although it appeared that Governor Andrew Cuomo would approve hydraulic fracturing, or as it is commonly referred, fracking, it appears that for now any approval is delayed. The Governor ordered a study be conducted of fracking and its impacts on public health. Following Governor Cuomo's decision regarding an additional study, it was announced that the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) will restart the regulatory rule-making process over again. This process could mean that a decision regarding hydraulic fracturing would not occur until next year.

Many high profile environmentalists and celebrities have spoken out against hydraulic fracturing but it also means revenue and jobs for upstate New York citizens, many of whom support fracking.

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Governor Christie Vetoes Bill Banning Fracking in New JerseySeptember 27, 2012

A bill overwhelmingly passed by both the New Jersey Assembly and Senate in June, A-575, was vetoed this week by Governor Christie.  The bill would have prohibited the treatment, discharge, disposal, or storage in New Jersey, of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing in any state.  Governor Christie argued that the bill would have been illegal as a violation of the commerce clause of the United States Constitution.  While the legislature believes that the inclusion of "in any state" supports the legality of the bill, the Governor stated that because there will be no fracking wastewater or by-products generated in New Jersey, the bill is only neutral on its face.  Thus, the bill only applies to products from out-of-state, which would be subject to federal law.

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