Virginia Fracking Regs Coming Soon

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Gas well in Pennsylvania

What? Fracking in Virginia? Not yet. Gas prices are too low to spur gas drillers into expanding to new geographic areas. But the oil & gas industry sees potential in the Taylorsville Basin north and east of Richmond, most notably in King George County. Meanwhile, reports Jim Pierobon in Southeast Energy Newsa regulatory review, launched in 2013, is reaching its final stages.

There are two sets of issues: (1) updating fracking standards, said to be the least stringent of any state with shale production, and (2) settling whether local governments have the authority to ban fracking. Former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli declared that localities do not have the authority, but his successor Mark Herring said last year that they do.

The State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations (STRONGER), initiated at the behest of the Environmental Protection Agency, is funded by the American Petroleum Institute but comprised of a wide spectrum of stakeholders. The group is scheduled to meet in Abingdon next month to complete the review.

— JAB

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7 responses to “Virginia Fracking Regs Coming Soon

  1. If Herring’s position were to be carried to the extreme consider what a regulatory nightmare might result. If a fracking well in Henrico were to cause water to flow into Hanover’s substrate to their supposed detriment what would be Hanover’s options? Remedies? Response? Damage assessment? How small a jurisdiction is a local government entity to be defined for such purposes? Does this have implications with respect to issues other than fracking?

    This type question makes the cranial apparatus ache.

    • I generally thought Herring was a reasonably good state senator, even as a Democrat. But as Attorney General, he’s proven to be a political hack. Part of the Anything for Hillary Club governing the Commonwealth.

      Fracking needs to be regulated, but at the state level. Local government does not have the expertise to do this correctly. Either nothing will be approved or nothing will be protected adequately. And this will vary from county to county, city to city and town to town. I hope McAuliffe has sense to ignore Herring again and give the issue to the DEQ.

  2. Just noticed something that LtG posted yesterday in re Petersburg saying there are/were 518 jurisdictions in Virginia … Wow …

    • 518 governments of which a smaller number , maybe half would be in a position to regulate things land-use wise.

      The State -by the way asserts control over the spreading of ‘bio-solids” – i.e. sludge from water treatment plants – as well as landfills, storm water, etc.

      I agree with TMT – this is one of those things where you DON’T want each jurisdiction with their own set of rules.

      Having said that -I don’t trust the General Assembly as far as you could throw them on PROPERLY regulating fracking.

      it’s bad local and its bad State because of the the way the General Assembly does business – money, corruption, sleaze.

      I have no doubt what-so-ever that lobby money is going to flow like it does for DVP.

  3. I think there is some jurisdictional confusion in the discussions. Without looking up the wording …
    Can a local zoning board ban fracking? I think that is the only question there …not a local zoning board writing regulations, just enacting a ban. The regs them selves are not created by the local zoning boards.
    This question is playing out across the country.

    Nationally the EPA writes rules under the clean water and clean air acts. Those federal laws then give the states the option of constructing and enforcing state level rules. If the states do not enact their own adequate regs or are, in the eyes of EPA, derelict in enforcing rules, then the EPA can step in, which it looks like it has done with regard to what it deems as insufficient fracking regs in VA.

    • I think local zoning would apply to fracking as it would to other industrial activities. I suspect a court would uphold a ban on fracking in a residential zoned area and likely many commercial and light industrial zoned areas.

      But even Fairfax County has rock quarries. 38.8255555556,-77.4908333333 Check on Google Maps.

      I suspect that with the appropriate permits and under the appropriate conditions, Fairfax County would grant land use authority for a fracking operation in a heavy industrial area. Now whether the applicant could get the permits and meet the conditions is another subject.

  4. I know CT law better but understand that the two states have similar legislation. Local zoning laws are only allowed to operate under what is called ‘enabling’ legislation … state law that tells local jurisdictions what they have powers to do.
    The local commission I served on had the right to establish laws that were written in accordance with the enabling legislation. In our case our rules were more strict than the state’s regs, which in turn were more strict than the minimum regs required by the EPA under the federal legislation.

    I believe the area in question in east and south of Richmond. Further confusion is caused by the fact that the Bush administration, afraid we would run out of oil and gas, gave fracking a pass from meeting the basic CA-CW rules.
    In NC the DEQ was sued for not enforcing coal ash pit ‘stuff’ under fed regs.

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