RALEIGH, NC - A Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) introduced in the Senate Commerce Committee today made some improvements to the original language of a Senate measure that addresses the practice of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking,” but still falls far short of what is needed to protect the public interest.
The revised version of S. 820 introduced by Sen. Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) provides consumer protections which were completely absent in the original version of the bill. It also requires an intentional vote of the legislature to allow permitting for fracking.
But major points of concern remain for North Carolinians. “The new version of the bill falls far short of what is needed to reassure the public that fracking can be done safely and protect our drinking water,” said Molly Diggins, State Director of the NC Sierra Club.
Key concerns about the new version of the bill include:
Local communities explicitly lose the ability to control where and how fracking occurs;
Key decisions about fracking regulations will be made by an industry-dominated commission;
Requiring all regulations to be adopted by 2014 even if the studies are not completed;
Uncertainty about what decisions the Environmental Management Commission would retain and which the newly constituted Mining Commission would make;
Ignoring DENR's recommendation of additional study of NC's unique geology, perhaps one of the most important prerequisites to determine if fracking can be done safely; and,
Creating a massive new workload for DENR but does not contain funding for new positions. Further, revenue fees from permit fees would not come in for years.
“North Carolinans are understandably suspicious of fracking,” added Diggins. “This measure has a long way to go to secure the public’s confidence that their drinking water will not be at risk from fracking.”