Over/Under Regulated: Venting on Taxes and Fracking

on November 28, 2014 at 3:00 PM
Fracking In California Under Spotlight As Some Local Municipalities Issue Bans
Ed. note: This is a new weekly column by Elie Mystal, Managing Editor of http://www.atlredline.com Above the Law Redline. This space will focus on the laws that exist, should exist, and should be put out of their misery.


Gaseous Emissions:  The Bureau of Land Management is trying to figure out whether to tax the venting and flaring of gas on public lands. Don’t get your hopes up, environmentalists: The BLM isn’t trying to keep your water from catching on fire. The agency WANTS ALL THE MONIES, in the form of lucrative royalties it can charge that it previously refrained from charging.

Of course, taxing it will discourage the practice. So there’s that. But this isn’t an environmental regulation; it’s more of a BLM fundraising effort.Men’s Underwear: Riparo underwear sells men’s underwear that will protect your junk from radiation. Not real radiation that you might experience at a nuclear power plant or just walking around Japan these days. No, Riparo protects you from cell phone radiation. No matter that there is scant evidence that cell phones will do anything other than give you a pleasant buzzing down there, Riparo is protecting you from the chance that EMF signals could decrease fertility. In other news, I’m selling this rock that protects you from tigers. If you buy this rock, no tigers will attack you. The rock is actually a piece of a large boulder in Central Park. Not once when I was next to this boulder did I ever see anybody attacked by tigers.


Rustic Towns: In the case Robinson Township v. Commonwealth, the Supreme Court invalidated attempts by Pennsylvania to make damn near all the land in the state available for fracking. Both environmentalists and energy producers viewed the decision as a “not in my backyard” decision about drilling, with the predictable cheers or wails, respectively.

But the decision and the law is actually more complicated. All Robinson Township did was to keep decisions over zoning regulations where they’ve always been — the level of local government. Now the fight over fracking is proceeding, town by town, throughout the state.

Industry leaders interpret the Robinson Township ruling to mean that local officials can decide if and where to allow drilling in their towns. Activists interpret the decision to empower them to prevent drilling in rural areas. If you have something zoned for “industrial,” does that mean officials can pick and choose which industry is allowed to operate on the land?

Nobody knows, and nobody agrees, and so fracking issues will again be coming to a courthouse near you. You could fill the Library of Alexandria with scrolls of fracking regulations, but there are still few clear cut answers. The battle continues…


Now that the election is over, Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil and gas company, will get around to looking at the allegations that Petrobras was giving kickbacks to political parties for contracts. This follows the well-established legal principle that the fox is in the best position to guard the henhouse.

Unimpressed, the SEC of the United States has requested documents from Petrobras. Graca Foster, the head of Petrobras, said that the investigation will target people instead of companies. So, expect at least one goat to have the sins of Petrobras laid upon it before it is sent out into the rainforest.