Clean Water for North Carolina is the latest environmental group to ask the courts to declare the state’s fracking panel to be illegal.
In a suit filed Monday in Wake County Superior Court, Asheville-based Clean Water NC and several citizens challenged the state law that gave the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission authority to override local ordinances that would restrict fracking. Also filing the lawsuit are Creedmoor Mayor Darryl Moss, Anson County Commissioner Anna Baucom and Chatham County resident Martha Girolami.
The fracking opponents contend that granting such sweeping powers to the Mining and Energy Commission, which writes safety rules for fracking, is unconstitutional because it confers lawmaking authority on an administrative agency that should be subordinate to the legislature.
State lawmakers granted those powers to the Mining and Energy Commission in a move to block towns and communities from banning shale gas exploration, or hydraulic fracturing, within their borders. One such town was Creedmoor, which in 2011 passed a fracking ban. Anson County Commissioners passed a fracking moratorium in 2013.
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Clean Water NC’s suit against the Mining and Energy Commission and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources was filed by the Duke Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.