Most Georgia readers have probably heard about hydraulic fracturing—commonly called “fracking”—which has become a growing industry in recent years, even within Georgia. Along with the growth of the industry, there has been growing concern about the safety of the process, which uses chemicals underground to access natural gas reserves. Environmentalists have called for increased safety standards to govern the process so that underground water reserves are not contaminated.
Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a number of new regulations aimed at reducing the occurrence of incidents connected to pesticide exposure among agricultural workers and those who handle pesticides. Included in the proposal were rules establishing a minimum age requirement of 16 for pesticide-handlers; off-limit buffer zones around fields treated with pesticides; training requirements for workers; and enhanced regulatory compliance rules.
In July, we wrote about a Georgia Court of Appeals decision which struck down a water buffer protocol established in April by the state Environmental Protection Division. The protocol essentially removed the requirement for 25-foot protective buffers around salt water marshes statewide. The decision, it appears, was not the end of the story.
It has been over four years since the BP oil disaster occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, and litigation in connection with the incident is still ongoing. The most recent development was a decision by a federal judge that the company acted with gross negligence and willful misconduct in the spill, a decision that could mean the company has to pay significantly more in penalties.