Raleigh, NC—The state’s moratorium on fracking would be lifted and the controversial form of natural gas drilling allowed in North Carolina in 2015, according to a bill that cleared a committee today and now heads to the full N.C. Senate.
“This dangerous proposal puts Jordan Lake, the Eno River, and all our waters at risk,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, state director of Environment North Carolina.
Fracking, short for “hydraulic fracturing,” is the process by which water, sand, and toxic chemicals are injected into wells at high pressure in order to extract shale gas.
Last summer lawmakers passed a contentious law that set the stage for fracking, but placed an indefinite moratorium on allowing permits to be issued until rules could be crafted to govern the practice. Senate Bill 76 would lift the moratorium in 2015 whether or not those regulations are in place.
A much-debated provision allows the underground injection of fracking wastewater, which contains toxic chemicals, brine, and naturally occurring radioactivity, despite a recommendation to the contrary from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in a 444-page report issued last spring.
The bill would also eliminate expertise on environmental quality, waste management, and geology from the NC. Mining and Energy Commission; ban local governments from taxing energy developers; and eliminate the state’s landman registry for those who offer drilling leases to property owners.
“This bill is a giveaway to big energy companies at the expense of our drinking water,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, state director for Environment North Carolina.
Environment North Carolina urged legislators to focus their attention on abundant, clean energy sources like solar and wind, pointing out the state’s huge offshore wind potential and the 20,000 jobs in solar energy and energy efficiency created in the state in the last five years.
“We need to continue our progress towards a clean energy future,” said Ouzts. “Not take a U-turn to the dirty energy sources of the past.”
Environment North Carolina is a statewide, citizen-funded advocacy group, working to protect the places we love and the values we share.