Geologists and energy prospectors have long suspected that much of north Georgia sits atop a potentially very lucrative oil and gas belt that extends northeast from central Alabama to southeast Tennessee. The area is all part of the Conasauga Shale Field – which may contain as much as 625 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, Rome and Dalton are part of it as well. “Wildcatters” have been interested in the area for years, occasionally setting up exploratory sites.

One problem though – Georgia’s oil and gas drilling laws haven’t been updated since 1975. HB 205, signed on Tuesday by Governor Deal, changes that. The new law allows the state’s Environmental Protection Division to regulate fracking and collect a severance tax of three cents per barrel of oil or one cent per thousand cubic feet of gas. It also allows local governments to impose their own taxes if they so wish, up to but not exceeding nine cents per barrel of oil and two cents per thousand cubic feet of gas. 

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