North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed the Energy Modernization Act, ending the moratorium on fracking in the state. Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial method of extracting natural gas. It involves pumping millions of gallons of a water chemical mixture into the ground to force rock to crack in order to extract natural gas.
The new law will take effect in January 2015. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Mining and Energy Commission can begin issuing permits as early as May, 2015.
Key Details of the Energy Modernization Act
• An oil or gas developer or operator must provide a $1,000,000 bond to the State in order to cover potential environmental damage caused by the drilling process. The commissions may increase the amount of the bond if they determine that the drilling operation would be sited in an environmentally sensitive area.
• If the developer or operator is not the surface owner of the property, a bond must be provided to the surface owner sufficient to cover reclamation of the property before any work starts. Upon registration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, a developer shall request that the Mining and Energy Commission set the amount of the bond.
• Revealing trade secrets related to fracking chemicals is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Companies, however, are required to hand over documents identifying the chemicals contained in their fracking fluid to the State Geologist, whom shall serve as the custodian of the confidential information and maintain its security.
At Wilson Law, P.A., we believe this new law will cause oil and gas companies will begin to pick up their leasing activity since they now have a clearer picture of the playing field. Oil and gas leases are legally binding contractual agreements. If you are approached by a company with a Gas & Mineral lease, do not sign it without speaking to an attorney. Contact Wilson Law, P.A. at 1-877-571-4047. There is no cost for your initial consultation.