Georgia passes modern-day fracking protections into law

SELC attorney April Lipscomb stands to the right of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and partners after he signed new state legislation providing better protections from natural gas extraction.  (© Governor Deal's Office)

This week, Governor Nathan Deal signed Georgia’s first bill governing fracking into law, updating the state’s antiquated drilling regulations to better protect local communities and drinking water.

Commonly referred to as fracking, hydraulic fracturing is a technique that uses horizontal drilling and pumps fluids to break up shale formations. This allows natural gas trapped in tiny pockets to be economically extracted. Georgia’s previous regulations did not include any restrictions on fracking, and many communities throughout the state were concerned about the potential impacts from this emerging industry.

Fracking operations can lead to a significant industrial footprint, result in enormous amounts of heavy truck traffic, and can cause groundwater contamination and other environmental problems.

The new law is timely. The Conasauga Shale Field underlying northwest Georgia has been attracting interest from developers in recent years, leading many local residents to question the real risks fracking can pose.

Georgia’s new law allows the state Department of Natural Resources to create an oil and gas board to review and issue permits and regulate drilling activities. The law will ensure extensive public involvement in advance of fracking operations and require companies to monitor groundwater quality, clean up abandoned sites, and disclose the chemicals used in fracking fluids.

Importantly, the law also allows local governments to adopt zoning or land use ordinances that limit the location or timing of drilling and fracking activities. In other states, local efforts to fight fracking have been quashed.

Along with the Coosa River Basin Initiative and other state partners, SELC played an important role in working closely with state Representative John Meadows to develop this legislation, and will continue to follow the process as state officials draft regulations to implement the law.

We applaud Representative Meadows’ leadership and Governor Deal’s dedication to bringing Georgia’s stone-age drilling laws into the 21st century,” said SELC attorney, April Lipscomb. “By updating and strengthening these protections for local communities, Georgia residents will now have a say in what happens in their own backyards.”

Georgia Shale

The possible natural gas deposits in northwest Georgia are part of the Conasauga Shale Formation.

More News

Community and faith leaders shed light on Georgians’ energy burden

Nobody likes a sky-high electric bill. But in Georgia, where total monthly energy costs are the third highest nationwide, many families are consi...

Public Service Commission delivers major clean energy wins in Georgia

Georgia’s electric grid is getting a lot more solar following today’s final vote by the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) on Georgia Power’...

Lower Cape Fear River no longer to be classified as ‘swamp waters’

Fifteen miles of North Carolina’s lower Cape Fear River will no longer be classified as “swamp waters,” thanks to a successful petition by enviro...

Support floods in to bolster ruling invalidating 2 N.C. constitutional amendments

On Friday, the North Carolina NAACP, represented by SELC and Forward Justice, urged the North Carolina Court of Appeals to uphold the Wake County...

Carolinas object to seismic blasting

State agencies in North and South Carolina have found that seismic blasting proposed for the Atlantic Ocean is not in line with the states’ coast...

Cross-sector collaboration: Groups tackle climate change through transportation reform

As the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions nationwide—and a close second in North Carolina—transportation has a vital role to play in redu...

More Stories