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Haw River Assembly v. Rao

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20094
Nos. 15 CVS 000127, (N.C. Super. Ct., 05/06/2015)

A North Carolina court issued a preliminary injunction barring the state Mining and Energy Commission from accepting or processing any hydraulic fracturing applications until the state Supreme Court issues its opinion in a similar case concerning the constitutionality of the Commission's appointment process. In establishing the Commission, the legislature gave itself the authority to appoint eight of the 13 commissioners. Environmental groups allege that legislative appointment of a majority of the Commission's members violates the state constitution's separation of powers doctrine. The state's highest court, however, will hear a similar case on June 30, 2015, that raises the same constitutional questions. A stay of litigation would therefore be appropriate to preserve judicial economy and resources. In addition, the groups have demonstrated that they are likely to succeed on the merits, since the appellate court ruled in the other case that the appointment process is unconstitutional. In addition, an injunction barring the Commission from accepting or processing any applications would preserve the status quo pending the outcome of the litigation and would avoid irreparable harm to the groups and others that rely on the mining and energy regulations.