Senate lawmakers approve fracking bill

All eyes now on Gov. Bev Perdue
For immediate release

Raleigh, NC—Having delayed final approval two days in a row, Senate lawmakers voted 29 to 15 today in favor of the controversial measure that paves the way for the method of gas drilling called “fracking” as soon as 2014.  The bill now heads to desk of Gov. Bev Perdue, who has already received thousands of emails, phone calls, and postcards urging a veto.

“We stand with the tens of thousands of North Carolinians of who’ve voiced their concern about fracking to the Governor over the past year, and with the hundreds of thousands more whose drinking water could be impacted,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, Environment North Carolina State Director.  “We ask Gov. Perdue to reject this rush to frack.”

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.

State laws currently prohibit two key aspects of the technology: horizontal drilling and injecting chemicals into the ground.  Senate Bill 820 lifts those prohibitions and tasks a new commission with developing rules that could allow the practice as soon as 2014.

A 484-page analysis from the state’s environmental agency documents the extent to which fracking has contaminated water supplies and waterways around the country, and calls for seven additional studies, none of which are addressed in the measure approved by the House.

The measure passed the N.C. House last week, but without enough votes to override a veto.  In the last week alone, thousands have urged Gov. Perdue to reject the measure, which clean water advocates contend runs counter to an executive order she issued in may.

“Last month, Gov. Bev Perdue called for a careful and responsible approach to fracking,” said Ouzts.  “This bill represents the opposite track—rushing the state into this dangerous new method of drilling and asking questions about water and air pollution later.”