Raleigh, NC—Fracking, the controversial form of natural gas drilling linked to water and air pollution, could begin in North Carolina in 2015, and Gov. Pat McCrory would have new powers to advocate offshore oil and gas drilling, according to a proposal introduced last night by Sens. Bob Rucho, Andrew Brock, and Buck Newton.
“This bill spells disaster for water quality,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, State Director of Environment North Carolina. “There’s just no chance fracking is worth the risks to Jordan Lake, the Deep River, and our drinking water.”
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, amid significant controversy, lawmakers lifted prohibitions on two key aspects of the technology: horizontal drilling and injecting chemicals into the ground. They created a commission widely criticized for having a pro-fracking bias to draft rules to govern onshore gas drilling and placed an indefinite moratorium on permitting fracking operations. Senate Bill 76 would lift the moratorium in March of 2015.
“Fracking has wrecked havoc on water quality and communities in other states,” said Ouzts. “That’s why the moratorium on this controversial form of gas drilling in North Carolina should remain in place.”
In a reprise of 2011’s failed Senate Bill 709, Senate Bill 76 also authorizes Gov. McCrory to form a compact with the governors of Virginia and South Carolina to advocate offshore oil and gas drilling and exploration in federal waters, including sensitive areas off Cape Hatteras and Wrightsville Beach.
Experts estimate that North Carolina’s offshore oil and gas reserves, like its onshore shale gas reserves, are negligible compared to other states’ supplies. Environment North Carolina urged legislators to focus their attention on abundant, clean energy sources like solar and wind instead of polluting fossil fuels.
“North Carolina already has thousands of jobs in clean, homegrown solar energy, and we have the potential for tens of thousands more. We have more offshore wind energy potential than any other state,” said Ouzts.
“When will N.C. senators stop wasting time promoting dirty energy sources of the past, and lead the charge for a clean energy future?”
Environment North Carolina is a statewide, citizen-funded advocacy group, working to protect the places we love and the environmental values we share.