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States Enact Only 52 Natural Gas-Related Bills in 2013

State legislatures actively pushed new natural gas legislation in 2013, but of 351 gas-related bills introduced, only 52 were enacted, an analysis indicated.

Most gas regulation at the state level occurs through agency rulemaking authority, but a variety of issues piqued the interest of state lawmakers, according to Colorado State University's Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE).

"As has historically been the case, severance tax rates and exemptions continue to be important considerations as states seek to strike a balance between attracting development and maintaining funding for a variety of state programs," the report's authors said.

The 50-state analysis also found that lawmakers across the country were motivated to regulate hydraulic fracturing in several ways, "yet few of these proposed changes were passed." Four of 50 bills to regulate fracking were passed nationwide.

"If we look at where the country is going on advanced energy policy, overwhelmingly that transition is being led by states," said CNEE Director Bill Ritter Jr., former governor of Colorado. "To get the pulse of where the country is going we need to understand what the states are doing."

Enacted legislation nationwide contains "broad rulemaking guidance and authority" over aspects of gas drilling that should lead to substantial changes in California, Illinois, Nevada and North Carolina.

For instance, North Carolina's omnibus legislation maintains the state's drilling moratorium pending final rule development. It also contains provisions relating to offshore gas and oil development.

Among bills cited as showing strong support in the states were the passage of 15 split-estate bills to address surface owner rights; 50 had been introduced.

Gas-related legislation enacted in 2013 went north to south and east to west. Legislation expected to make a big impact:

  • Colorado enacted 21 of 45 bills that among other things amended gas drilling spill reporting requirements and well inspections.
  • Florida enacted underground gas storage rules.
  • Texas provisions enacted included funding to address local infrastructure impacts.
  • North Dakota enacted revisions to water rights policies that included consideration for mineral development needs. The state also enacted incentives to reduce waste associated with associated gas from oil drilling.

Natural gas wasn't the only type of legislation tracked. The analysts examined 589 bills enacted across nine categories of energy legislation and key policy trends.

Economic development, electricity generation, emissions, energy efficiency, financing/financial incentives, infrastructure, regulatory and transportation bills also were reviewed.

In 2012, 3,236 advanced energy-related state bills were introduced, with 589 signed into law, CNEE said.

CNEE's database, the Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker, identifies, categorizes and tracks bills introduced in all 50 states through the legislative process. The privately funded tracker was launched in May (see Daily GPI, May 16).

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