Raleigh, NC—Backing down from earlier versions of a sweeping measure on oil and gas extraction in North Carolina, the N.C. General Assembly has voted to retain the state's moratorium on fracking, the controversial form of gas drilling that has long been prohibited in the state.
Fracking, short for “hydraulic fracturing,” is the process by which large volumes of water, sand, and toxic chemicals are injected into horizontal wells at high pressure in order to extract shale gas. A recent poll showed that 55 percent of North Carolinians oppose allowing the practice in the state.
Hours after lawmakers voted to keep the moratorium, Gov. Pat McCrory, making a rare visit to the General Assembly, teamed up with the pro-fracking Senate leadership to lobby House members to speed up fracking permits as part of an unrelated bill.
N.C. House members stood their ground, and the bill that lifted the moratorium did not receive a vote before lawmakers adjourned their 2013 session.
“Kudos to House members for listening to their constituents, and not allowing for these last minute end-runs around the legislative process,” said Ouzts.
When S.B. 76 cleared the Senate in February, it lifted the state's moratorium and contained a host of other incentives for oil and gas companies, including allowing the injection of toxic chemical waste underground and prohibiting local governments from taxing energy developers.
Environment North Carolina credited a rare alliance of House democrats and a number of Republicans, led by Reps. Mike Stone and Jamie Boles, for retaining the moratorium and preventing injecting toxic wastewater underground in the final version of S.B. 76.
"Lawmakers have lived up to their promise not to consider fracking until rules have been proposed," said Ouzts. "Next, we hope state leaders will see that the only way to fulfill their promise to protect our water and our air is to make our fracking moratorium permanent."