Rather than taking the high road, suggesting a state program to address gathering lines, which would avoid the possibility of inconsistent local regulation, the oil and gas industry took the low-road - remove virtually any local government authority over any aspect of the industry, yet make no changes in state law to protect landowners and to prevent the abuses that gave rise to county action in the first place. The oil & gas industry says it wants what coal has - one set of state standards; yet the difference is that the legislature did not preempt local regulation of coal until after a comprehensive state program was in place. There is no comparable program in place for oil and gas and none is proposed.
The House yesterday, on a divided vote with 26 voting no, passed HB 458. It will be received today in the Senate. Attached is a fact sheet. Please contact your Senator concerning this irresponsible bill.
Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.
Post Office Box 1070, Frankfort, Kentucky 40602
(502) 875-2428 phone (502) 875-2845 fax
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR SENATOR TO OPPOSE HB 458
House Bill 458 is a direct assault on the ability of counties to act to protect their citizens from abuse by the oil and gas industry. HB 458 would trample county authority to regulate the harm caused by the oil and gas industry to private landowners. Except for zoning, counties would lose any authority to prevent oil and gas-related nuisances or to require oil and gas operators to protect private lands from damage caused by those operations.
Industry acknowledges that there are no existing country ordinances attempting to regulate the industry – and only one is considering an ordinance in order to address abuses in the location of "gathering" pipelines. Industry says they want only what coal has in this state – one standard of conduct in a state-level program of regulation rather than the possibility of county-by-county controls.
What they don't tell you is that there is no such state program regulating all environmental impacts of the oil and gas industry. The General Assembly pre-empted local regulation of coal only after it first mandated a comprehensive program at the state level for regulating coal in order to protect public health, safety and the environment. There is no comparable state-level program to protect landowners rights and to demand that the oil and gas industry reclaim all disturbed areas and repair the damage they cause.
There is no justification for this bill. Existing "home rule" law prevents inconsistent county regulations where the state has adopted a standard of conduct. Absent such a standard counties must have the power to fill the gap and protect their residents.
KRC believes that absent a state program controlling all of the impacts of oil and gas development and transmission on landowners and the environment, it is irresponsible to restrict the ability of counties to provide such controls.
The attached comparison of the regulation of coal v. oil & gas highlights that the oil and gas industry has never been held to the same level of accountability for the damage they cause.
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR STATE SENATOR AT 1-800-372-7181 AND LEAVE A MESSAGE OPPOSING HB 458, AND CALL YOUR COUNTY JUDGE-EXECUTIVE TO ASK THEM TO CALL THE SENATE TO OPPOSE THIS IRRESPONSIBLE BILL.
A Comparison Of Coal to Oil & Gas Impacts Regulation
|Permit required for all coal mining impacts on land and water resources, covering exploration, mining, reclamation and compensation for damage.||No comprehensive permit controlling damage unless the oil & gas rights are severed from the surface.|
|Permit required for all lands affected by mining, including conveyors used for moving coal from mine to tipple||No permit required for location of gathering lines used for moving gas from well to pipeline or for reclamation of lands disturbed by locating gathering lines except for property where well is located and surface & mineral rights are severed.|
|Requirement to reclaim all disturbed areas and to file reclamation plan even where coal company owns the surface or has a lease||No requirement to reclaim disturbed areas or file reclamation plan except for lands where wells led and then only if there is a complete severance of oil and gas rights.|
|Comprehensive pre-disturbance collection of information to protect surface and groundwater quality||No background data collection|
|Public notice of intention to mine and opportunity for public review and comment on proposed operation||No notice to public, and no opportunity for public comment|
|Requirement for contemporaneous reclamation of all disturbed areas||No requirement for reclamation of disturbed areas at all, except for cases of complete severance of oil and gas from surface and only with respect to well sites.|
|Mandatory monthly inspections and mandatory citation of all violations||No mandated inspection frequency|
|Process for declaring certain areas as unsuitable for mining.||No such process|
|Distance protections for churches, homes, cemeteries, schools and public parks from mining||No such protections|
|Citizen suits for violations||No such statutory right|
|Mandatory enforcement sanctions for violations, including bar on new permits||No comparable sanctions and weaker penalties|
|Abandoned mine land fee to reclaim prior mine lands||No comparable fee|
|Groundwater user protection||No comparable protection|
|Requirement to remove all equipment during reclamation||No requirement to remove equipment or restore areas except well properties where surface rights are severed|
|Goal of protection of public and conservation of natural resources KRS 350.020||"Conservation" is defined as conservation of the mineral resource, not land and water. KRS 353.500|
|Reclamation bond that insures full restoration of all disturbed areas||No comparable reclamation bond|
|Requirement to restore all disturbed areas to pre-mining or higher or better post-mining use||Operator required to restore land and improvements only where surfacen and minerals severed. KRS 353.595(7).|
|Requirement for prior approval, reclamation plan and erosion control for all roads||No such requirement except for roads on well site where surface and minerals are severed|