Proposal to allow fracking draws criticism

Raleigh, NC—Today, a special committee led by Senator Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) proposed legislation that would legalize fracking in 2014 and create a new state bureaucracy to oversee the gas drilling technique that has caused air and water around the country.  Environment North Carolina sharply criticized the committee’s recommendations.

“The proposal to allow fracking in two years is the wrong choice for North Carolina,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, Environment North Carolina state director.  “This controversial form of gas drilling poses known threats to our water, our air, and our quality of life.”

“Fracking” is the term used to describe the injection of sand, water, and toxic chemicals into wells to fracture the surrounding rock to extract shale gas.  The practice is currently illegal in North Carolina, but some lawmakers want to change change that.

A 444-page draft study of the practice by the NC Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources sites numerous problems fracking has caused around the country, including increased air pollution, drinking water contamination, and possible impacts on farm animals and wildlife.  The analysis estimates that North Carolina’s shale gas reserves are only large enough to satisfy North Carolina’s demand for about one year.

The Senate proposal unveiled today is a contrast to the more cautious approach taken by Rep. Mitch Gillespie (McDowell-R), which calls for more study over the next two years without legalizing the practice by a date certain.

The committee also recommended today a resolution that would promote offshore oil drilling and nuclear power, while condemning new federal limits on pollution from coal-fired power plants.

 “Sen. Rucho’s proposal promotes a laundry list of dirty energy sources of the past, rather than clean energy sources of the future,” said Ouzts.  “If the Senator is serious about energy independence and economic vitality, his focus should be on solar power, wind, and energy efficiency—all of which are widely popular and hold enormous promise for the state’s economic future.”