Kentucky Resources Council, PO Box 1070, Frankfort, KY 40602 Phone [502] 875-2428

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PO Box 1070, Frankfort, KY 40602  Phone 502.875.2428, Fax 502.875.2845

HB 458 Tramples Local Government  Posted: February 26, 2003
The oil and gas industry drafted HB 458 to remove virtually all local government power to regulate the oil and gas industry's impacts. The industry admits there are no such local regulations in any of the 120 counties, and that only 1 county is considering regulating the placement of "gathering lines" used to gather gas and oil from wells. Because of abuse of landowners rights, Letcher County has been considering such an ordinance to provide basic protections for homeowners and the environment.

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

e-mail fitzKRC@aol.com


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.


A Comparison Of Coal to Oil & Gas Impacts Regulation

Oil & Gas
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

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