Officials OK rule to force fracking on NC landowners
By John Murawski
RALEIGH — North Carolina landowners would be forced to sell the natural gas under their homes and farms – whether they want to or not – under a fracking recommendation approved Wednesday that’s expected to be enacted by the state legislature this fall.
The proposal by a state study group endorses a rarely used 1945 law that’s never been tried here on the kind of scale that would be required for shale gas exploration, or fracking. Thousands of property owners could potentially be affected in the state’s gas-rich midsection in Lee, Moore and Chatham counties.
The recommendation, dealing with one of the most emotional fracking issues, bypasses the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission, which holds regular public hearings on protecting the public and safeguarding the environment, and goes to the legislature.
“We are talking about a for-profit industry taking away personal freedoms with the blessing of the government,” Therese Vick, a community activist with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, told the Compulsory Pooling Study Group. “Personal freedoms are seldom on the radar when the gas companies come to town.”
The panel does include four members of the Mining and Energy Commission, some of whom were deeply conflicted.