Friday, May 25, 2012

Fracking: More on the story from out west

As Jessica Owley noted in her post yesterday, it seems everyone is talking about fracking these days. And it’s not just the east-coast-Marcellus-Shale-folks having all the fun.

Out here in Idaho, fracking looms big on the horizon for two reasons. First, Idaho’s spring legislative session was marked by heated debate about whether local governments should retain control over siting of fracking operations, or whether such powers would be brought to the state level. When the dust settled, the state-level folks won with the March, 2012 passage of Idaho H464, which effectively preempts local control over fracking siting. The issue has now become a matter in upcoming elections in those counties where fracking is most likely to occur in the state.

Second, I’m pleased to announce that I was asked to be the faculty advisor for the 2012-2013 Idaho Law Review’s symposium, which will be held in Spring, 2013, and will focus on fracking. Already several luminaries on the topic are slated to speak, and I’ll announce more on the symposium as time draws closer. We will plan to make the symposium resources readily available since this is such a hot topic.

In the meantime, an interesting side note: natural gas prices keep falling and are really low. As in, a 30-year low. Will the market for natural gas make the fracking fracas fade? Maybe. But probably not. T. Boone Pickens doesn’t think so, and not just because he’s an oil and gas man, but because he believes in global warming. His argument for why natural gas, and fracking, aren’t going away any time soon—and shouldn’t—is here. Is he convincing?

Stephen R. Miller

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Fascinating stuff. This Idaho bill establishes that the state is occupying the field of oil and gas law, preempting all local laws relating to oil and gas. I wonder how broadly courts will construe "relating to." This is a question that often pops up in federal and state preemption cases. If a municipality passes stringent public health regulation that just happens to effectively limit fracking, has it passed a law related to oil and gas development? It will be interesting to see where Idaho courts come out on that one.

Posted by: Jessie Owley | May 29, 2012 1:21:46 PM