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

Suit filed to immediately stop ongoing GenX pollution from N.C. facility

North Carolina state officials have the authority to immediately stop the water and air pollution from a chemical manufacturing plant north of Wi...

Court tosses outdated dam license on Alabama’s Coosa River

A federal court has unanimously ruled in favor of conservation groups by throwing out a harmful, antiquated license issued to Alabama Power for o...

New multimedia series explores red wolf viewpoints during critical public comment period

WildSides—an independent nonprofit dedicated to investigating and documenting controversies involving wildlife—has launched Red Wolf Conflict Unt...

SELC: Defenders of Justice

SELC is honored to be named a Defender of Justice in the litigation category for 2018 by the North Carolina Justice Center. Each year, the North...

Suit voluntarily dismissed after timber sale cancelled by Cherokee National Forest

Earlier today, SELC, on behalf of the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club, with Knoxville attorney Shelby Ward, on behalf of Heartwood and Tenne...

Virginia officials quietly weakened pipeline standards protecting water

Amid all the hearings, protests, meetings, and headlines bringing attention to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, one aspect of the plans was k...

More Stories