A judge for Michigan's Barry County Circuit Court [official website] on Monday dismissed a fracking lawsuit by Michigan Land Air Water Defense (MLAWD) [advocacy website] against the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) [official website]. MLAWD sought [press release] a declaratory ruling nullifying the MDNR auctions of mineral rights within Barry and Allegan State Game Areas and the Yankee Springs Recreation Area. The group contends that land leased might be subject to fracking, which could compromise the areas. Judge Amy McDowell ruled [AP report] that the "mere act" of the state issuing non-developmental lease permits doesn't mean there's an imminent threat to the environment, and so the MDNR has not engaged in an activity that has violated the public trust.
Hydraulic fracturing [JURIST feature], commonly referred to as "fracking," is a highly debated topic in regions where recent Marcellus shale gas developments have been associated with toxic water pollution. In June Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn [official website] signed into law [JURIST report] the most restrictive fracking legislation in the country, now requiring all drillers to acquire a permit from the legislature, provide frackwater samples before, after and during drilling, and store used frackwater in above-ground tanks. The New York State Assembly [official website] in March approved a two-year ban [JURIST report] on fracking, during which time a "comprehensive health impact assessment" can be conducted to identify potential public health impacts that may result from the process. The ban represents a continuation of a previous ban on fracking that has been in place in the state since 2008. Also in March, JURIST guest columnist Nicolas Parke debunked the rumors [JURIST op-ed] around fracking. In February JURIST guest columnist Samantha Peaslee detailed the future of fracking [JURIST op-ed] in Colorado in the wake of recent lawsuits against fracking companies in the state. In 2012 Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Vermont, New Jersey, New York and the Environmental Protection Agency [JURIST reports] all took regulatory, legislative and judicial steps towards restricting hydraulic fracturing for fear of environmental and public health concerns.