By letter dated April 2, State Majority Floor Leader Greg Stumbo wrote asking Governor Patton to direct the Department of Mines and Minerals to develop for adoption by the effective date of House Bill 524, emergency regulations for siting natural gas pipelines, including requiring reclamation plans and setbacks. The letter also asks that the Natural Resources Cabinet and Department for Mines and Minerals be directed to complete the 2001 study on needed reforms in the area of oil and gas reclamation requirements within sixty (60) days, and that a task force be impaneled to consider and report on a proposed broader regulatory program for oil and gas, with a target of proposing regulations within 6 months.
Representative Stumbo's proposal would place needed deadlines on the development of the statewide program and would assure active involvement by landowners and conservation groups in the development of the state regulations. Until that time, KRC believes that the new law does not affect the ability of counties to adopt ordinances governing environmental and public safety aspects of oil and gas operations.
A copy of Rep. Stumbo's letter is available from KRC by writing Becky Raff at firstname.lastname@example.org. The press release is attached.
WHAT YOU CAN DO?
E-mail the Governor at Governor@mail.state.ky.us or fax him at 502-564-2517 and ask that he act immediately to adopt the recommendations of Representative Stumbo to develop statewide regulations to regulate the oil and natural gas industry in order protect landowners and the environment from abuse. Suggest that he use the recently adopted Letcher County natural gas gathering line ordinance as the basis for the emergency regulations.
REP. STUMBO CALLS FOR EXECUTIVE ORDER TO PROTECT LANDOWNERS FROM OIL, NATURAL GAS DAMAGE
FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 2, 2003) ? In an effort to protect property owners from harm, House Majority Floor Leader Gregory D. Stumbo today requested Gov. Paul E. Patton to issue an executive order to begin the development of statewide regulations for the oil and natural gas industry.
Rep. Stumbo said moving forward with the regulations will ensure that there is no gap in protection against property damage from the placement of natural gas gathering lines after the effective date of House Bill 524. The legislation, which was approved by the 2003 session of the Kentucky General Assembly, calls for the creation of a comprehensive regulatory system for the oil and gas industry.
HB 524 will take not effect until June 24, and the law allows up to six months for the development of state regulations on gathering lines. Additionally, the legislation has no deadline for the regulations of other impacts of the industry on property and public health.
"House Bill 524 is a significant step forward in protecting public safety and health, Rep. Stumbo said. For the first time, well develop regulations that will help protect property owners from the adverse effects of all aspects of the oil and gas industry from exploration to development to transmission of the product to the marketplace.
HB 524 builds on statutory reforms adopted during Rep. Stumbos tenure as House Majority Floor Leader a mandate for replacement of water supplies damaged by oil and gas operations, KRS 353.597 (1994), and the requirement for development of a reclamation plan and repair of damages from development in cases where the oil and gas interests are severed. KRS 353.595 (1990).
Rep. Stumbo said that the majority of those involved in the oil and gas industry are responsible citizens who deal fairly with the landowners and local communities in which they are located.
I have seen, however, those who would press any advantage and would abuse their rights and privileges, and in so doing have undercut their more responsible competitors and have fouled both the business and natural environment, Rep. Stumbo said. That must end and it will end."
In a letter to Gov. Patton, Rep. Stumbo wrote that it is in the interest of both the legitimate industry, local communities and private landowners that the Department of Mines and Minerals move forward with all due dispatch to implement regulations providing for controls on siting of gathering lines and promptly with respect to the remainder of the regulatory program areas.
Rep. Stumbo said he has asked the governor to direct the Department of Mines and Minerals to prepare emergency regulations for adoption by the effective date of HB 524 that would create an interim regulatory program for any proposal to site or construct a natural gas gathering line. The regulations would be based on the existing rules for permitting and reclamation plan and mediation process under KRS 353.595.
Also, Rep. Stumbo said the emergency regulations should provide that local governments be notified and assist in the coordination of line location and the crossing of public roads. Setback requirements should also be provided to protect occupied dwellings from explosion and other risks, he said.
The existing regulatory program is one that the industry is familiar with and which has been effective, and which is easily extended by regulation since it already covers location of gathering lines on the wellhead properties, Rep. Stumbo said.
Additionally, Rep. Stumbo asked Gov. Patton to direct the state Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet and the Department for Mines and Minerals to complete and publish a review of reclamation requirements for oil and natural gas production. The review should also include recommendations for changes necessary to protect Kentuckys environment, he said. In September, 2001, Gov. Patton directed through an executive order that such a study be undertaken, but it has yet to be completed.
Rep. Stumbo said he asked for completion of that study within 60 days and for a review of the recommendations by a task force comprised of representatives from the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet, the Department for Mines and Minerals, oil and gas companies, local governments in oil and gas producing counties, and landowner and conservation organizations. The group would then explore areas for possible consensus for the larger regulatory program, Rep. Stumbo said, and submit recommendations for regulations within 120 days. Regulations would be proposed by the cabinet and the department within 60 days thereafter.