The City Council for Binghamton, NY passed a de facto drilling moratorium at the end of December of 2011, just before the all-Democrat city council was about to be reconstituted with a few new Republican members (see this MDN story). At the time, Mayor Matthew Ryan and City Council were warned of possible litigation.
The law as passed was not (according to City Council and Ryan) an actual moratorium. Instead, they used the “police powers” of the city to enact a law instead of a zoning ordinance, believing it to be a clever legal maneuver insulating them from meeting the strict requirements for a true moratorium.
Yesterday New York Supreme Court Judge Ferris Lebous threw out the law as invalid, calling it what it really is: a moratorium. A copy of the judge’s ruling is embedded below. MDN will walk you through it…
On May 10, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a draft guidance document regarding the use of diesel fuel during the fracking process (see the full document embedded below). This is just another in a series of ongoing attempts by the EPA to federally regulate fracking. Such regulation, according to the U.S. Constitutional, is illegal and only can be done by the individual states. But that doesn’t stop the EPA from trying.
Even though fracking has proven to be safe in Pennsylvania, there are still extreme environmental groups (and legislators) in the state who want to ban it. Leading the pack, as usual, is the Sierra Club and Delaware Riverkeeper. A small group of anti-drillers gathered in Harrisburg yesterday to get a little press attention for their cause:
By all accounts the Marcus Hook refinery (near Philadelphia) is a Marcellus Shale success story. Sunoco shut it down in April, but later sold a controlling interest in the facility to the Carlyle Group (see this MDN story), retaining a one-third interest. The deal saves 850 jobs at the plant. Plans from Carlyle (under the name Energy Transfer Partners) are to use the refinery to process and market propane and ethane from western PA’s Marcellus region (see this MDN story).
But not everyone is happy about the refinery reopening. The Clean Air Council has filed an appeal with the state Dept. of Environmental Protection claiming the DEP’s decision (as part of the sale) to consider the refinery part of an existing, currently open refinery for the purposes of air pollution emissions essentially allows it to emit more emissions than if it were treated as a separate facility. The United Steelworkers union says “not so fast.” They disagree with the Clean Air Council.