HB 609:
"AN ACT relative to hydraulic fracturing."

additional commentary by Rep. Timothy Horrigan; December 30, 2015






AN ACT relative to hydraulic fracturing.

SPONSORS: Rep. Horrigan, Straf 6; Rep. Johnsen, Ches 7

COMMITTEE: Environment and Agriculture


This bill prohibits hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil production and the discharge of waste in this state from hydraulic fracturing.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.




In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Fifteen

AN ACT relative to hydraulic fracturing.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 New Chapter; Hydraulic Fracturing Prohibited. Amend RSA by inserting after chapter 488 the following new chapter:



488-A:1 Definitions. In this chapter:

I. "Fluid" means any material or substance which flows or moves whether in semi-solid, liquid, sludge, gas, or any other form or state.

II. "Gas" means all natural gas, whether hydrocarbon or nonhydrocarbon, including hydrogen sulfide, helium, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen, casinghead gas, and all other fluid hydrocarbons not defined as oil.

III. "Hydraulic fracturing" means the process of pumping a fluid into or under the surface of the ground in order to create fractures in rock for the purpose of the production or recovery of oil or gas.

IV. "Oil" means crude petroleum, oil, and all hydrocarbons, regardless of specific gravity, that are in the liquid phase in the reservoir and are produced at the wellhead in liquid form.

V. "Oil and gas" means both oil and gas, or either oil or gas, as the context may require to give effect to the purposes of this chapter.

488-A:2 Prohibition on Hydraulic Fracturing. No person may engage in hydraulic fracturing in the state of New Hampshire, nor may he or she collect, store, treat, or dispose of wastewater hydraulic fracturing fluid, wastewater solids, drill cuttings or other byproducts from hydraulic fracturing within the state of New Hampshire.

488-A:3 Penalty. Any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor if a natural person, or guilty of a felony if any other person.

2 Water Pollution and Waste Disposal. Amend RSA 485-A:4, XV(c) to read as follows:

(c) Toxic effluent standards, including hydraulic fracturing fluid under RSA 488-A.

3 New Paragraph; Water Pollution and Waste Disposal; Duties of the Department. Amend RSA?485-A:4 by inserting after paragraph XVIII the following new paragraph:

XIX. Enforce prohibitions on drilling, waste treatment and disposal, and mining activities which have been enacted to protect the water quality and the natural resources of the state.

4 New Subparagraph; Water Discharge. Amend RSA 485-A:13, I(b) by inserting after subparagraph (4) the following new subparagraph:

(5) Any sewage or waste into an injection well or into a treatment works in the state.

5 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.



Revised 02/24/15


AN ACT relative to hydraulic fracturing.


      The Department of Environmental Services states this bill, as introduced, will have an indeterminable fiscal impact on state, county, and local revenue and expenditures in FY 2016 and each year thereafter. The Judicial Branch state this bill may increase state expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2016 and each year thereafter. There will be no fiscal impact on county and local expenditures.


    The Department of Environmental Services this bill would prohibit hydraulic fracturing in New Hampshire, and also ban the disposal of wastewaters generated from hydraulic fracturing regardless of where the hydraulic fracturing actually occurs. This bill would also require the Department to enforce prohibitions on drilling, waste treatment and disposal and mining activities that were enacted to protect the environment. The Department has no information on whether any hydraulic fracturing for purpose of production or recovery of oil or gas is planned in New Hampshire. Additionally, the Department has no information on potential wastewater discharge that might occur by fracturing and if this would discharge to any state, county or local pollution control abatement facilities; the volume and characteristics of any wastewater; or the cost of enforcement of the prohibitions contained in this bill. Because there is no geological evidence that oil or gas deposits are present New Hampshire, any wastewater from fracturing would be imported from another state. With all the unknowns, the fiscal impact of this bill on state, county and local revenue and expenditures is indeterminable.

    The Judicial Branch states violations of this bill would be an unspecified misdemeanor if a natural person or a felony if any other person. An unspecified misdemeanor can be either class A or class B, with the presumption being a class B misdemeanor. There is no method to determine how many charges would be brought as a result of the changes contained in this bill to determine the fiscal impact on expenditures. However, the Judicial Branch is able to provide average case costs for each type of case involved. See table below for average cost information:


FY 2016

FY 2017

Judicial Branch*



Class B Misdemeanor



Class A Misdemeanor



Routine Criminal Felony Case






*It should be noted average case cost estimates for FY 2016 and FY 2017 are based on data that is more than nine years old and does not reflect changes to the courts over that same period of time or the impact these changes may have on processing the various case types.

      The Department of Justice states this bill would have no fiscal impact on the Department.

      The Judicial Council states this bill will have no fiscal impact on the indigent defense delivery system.

      The New Hampshire Association of Counties states this bill will have no impact on county revenue or expenditures.

Here is my written testimony:

Testimony in Favor of House Bill 609
"AN ACT relative to hydraulic fracturing."

House Environment & Agriculture Committee; February 17, 2015

Rep. Timothy Horrigan; Strafford District 6

I urge the Environment and Agriculture Committee to support House Bill 609, relative to hydraulic fracturing. This bill is an essential first step towards protecting the people of New Hampshire from a dangerous practice which has caused massive harm in several of our sister states.

I understand that we live in a petroleum-based economy, but this bill is about protecting an even more essential fluid: water. The practice of hydraulic fracturing has done serious damage to the water supply in several states, and this bill is needed to protect our state's water supply.

HB 609 (as introduced) does two things, both of which were inspired by legislation passed recently in Vermont:

  • It bans the practice of hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) for oil and gas in New Hampshire.

  • It bans the disposal of any waste from hydraulic fracturing in New Hampshire.

The fracking industry uses a wide variety of organic chemicals, which are very poorly regulated by the federal government. There is very little oversight of these chemicals, there is shockingly little objective data about those chemicals— and overly permissive federal and international trade secret laws make it easy for the fracking industry to get away without even disclosing which chemicals they are using. This process also produces a huge amount of wastewater which contains some very harmful pollutants, including the chemicals used in the fracking process as well as natural pollutants which get washed up from deep underground. That wastewater has to go somewhere. Much of this wastewater is trucked to whatever facility is willing to take it. Finally, fracking produces a large amount of solid waste.

Fracking's other dangers include an increased risk of earthquakes (and New Hampshire is a fairly active seismic zone) and accidental leakage of methane and uncaptured natural gas.

There is extensive fracking going on not far away in northern Pennsylvania, which is underlaid by the Marcellus Shale formation. Much of Upstate New York is also underlaid by the Marcellus Shale. More recently, the oil and gas industry has taken an interest in the Utica Shale formation (named after Utica, New York), which is at a much greater depth than the Marcellus Shale. The Utica formation extends far into Quebec's Saint Lawrence River valley. That valley is just a few miles north of our state.

Fracking in New York State has been put to a halt, for the time being. In December 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order banning fracking, after years of study which showed that the long-term health risks outweighed the short-term economic benefits. Like New York State, Quebec's provincial government has banned fracking, since the provincial government is not yet convinced that it would be safe to engage in this very dangerous practice.

Closer to home, there has recently been some oil and gas exploration in the Connecticut River valley related to the Hartford Shale (named after Hartford, Connecticut.) That shale deposit extends as far north as Turners Falls, Massachusetts, just a few miles south of Cheshire County.

Why should we legislators ban something which no one is doing in New Hampshire? Aside from the symbolic importance of protesting a dangerous and misguided practice which has done massive damage to our neighbors, there are some practical considerations, espe3iclaly related to the toxic waste from fracking.

Admittedly, there are no known oil- or gas-bearing shale deposits in New Hampshire: we are the Granite State and not the Shale State. However, this bill doesn't just ban fracking in shale, it also bans fracking in granite or any other rock. We do have some significant graphite deposits here in the Granite State, and graphite is pure carbon— so the areas where graphite mines once existed might be especially tempting targets for wannabe "wildcatters" looking for fossil fuels. There is no guarantee that no fuel-bearing shale will ever be found in our state. Extensive gas/"tight oil" shale deposits have been be found on the west edge of the Appalachian Mountains: our White Mountains are part of that chain of mountains. The Utica Shale deposits just north of our border were only recently discovered, in the mid-2000's.

The fossil fuels in those deposits are 450 million years old. The buried carbon in the Utica Shale is so old, it is older than the dinosaurs. It is even older than the first fish who crawled out of the sea onto dry land. Old carbon is no better or worse than new carbon, but the rise of fracking is a sign that that the era of fossil fuels is near its end. Fracking is not the solution to our energy needs: we need to make more use of the carbon which is already above ground, and we need to use more alternate energy sources.

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