Most of Georgia’s natural gas reserves are in nine counties in Northwest Georgia. Over the past 10 years or so, there have only been several applications for drilling permits. None of those efforts has been successful, but lawmakers are looking to improve state law in order to be prepared for potential changes in the market.
Georgia lawmakers in the House of Representatives, led by Rep. John Meadows, are reportedly proposing changes aimed at balancing the right of the oil and gas industry to drill, the right of landowners to protect their property, and the public’s right to protection of drinking water supplies.
Current state law on exploration and drilling has not been updated since the 1970s, and the proposed changes are especially concerned with protecting Georgia’s water resources and increasing local control of fracking activity. Under current law, public notice is not required, but the proposed measure would require that cities and counties be provided notice of fracking activity. Local governments would have the recognized right to restrict drilling activity through zoning and other ordinances.
The current version of the bill proposes that property owners and residents who could be impacted by drilling receive direct notice within ten days of the public notice date, and provides several minimum alternatives for doing so.
The proposal also calls for routine testing of the integrity of well casings, maintenance and repair of roadways that are significantly impacted by fracking, and buffers around wells and property line setbacks to protect property owners from noise, water, light, and air pollution resulting from drilling.
For landowners, protecting property from potentially destructive drilling can be an important issue, and it is critical for property owners to understand their legal rights and potential avenues for protecting their property and health interests. In our next post, we’ll look a bit more at this topic.