House leaders threaten, but take no action on drilling bill

Raleigh—For the fifth time in a row since Governor Perdue vetoed the controversial energy bill that lays the groundwork for onshore and offshore drilling, House leaders threatened an override--this time in the wee morning hours of an unrelated special session--but failed to deliver.

“Rep. Mike Hager and his pro-drilling and pro-fracking allies are starting to sound like the boy who cried wolf,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, Environment North Carolina Director.  “I'm hopeful they’ll let this terrible idea go.”

Senate Bill 709 lays the groundwork for a controversial form of onshore gas drilling by requiring state officials to produce a “regulatory framework” for developing the state’s shale gas reserves.  

Horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has been linked to contaminated water supplies and increased air pollution in the communities across the country where it is prevalent.  The practice is currently illegal in North Carolina, but oil and gas companies are already buying leases to drill near the Deep River in Chatham, Moore, and Lee counties.

“With all the problems fracking has caused in other states—from drinking water contamination to marred landscapes,” said Ouzts, “it’s clear this dangerous form of drilling has no place in North Carolina, least of all where it would damage our drinking water, our signature longleaf pine forests, or our treasured waters like the Deep River.”

Introduced on the anniversary of the BP disaster last April, Sen. Bob Rucho’s bill would also require Gov. Perdue to form a compact with the governors of Virginia and South Carolina to advocate offshore drilling and exploration in federal waters, including sensitive areas off Cape Hatteras and Wrightsville Beach. 

“This bill does nothing to tap North Carolina’s vast clean energy resources,” said Ouzts.  “It charts the absolute wrong course for our energy future.”