Senate Committee Unveils Fracking Bill, Proposes Lifting the Ban

 

For Immediate Release
 
April 18, 2012
 
Senate Committee Unveils Fracking Bill, Proposes Lifting the Ban
Bill Would Set a Fuse to Allow Fracking in North Carolina
 
RALEIGH, NC - Today a key energy committee chaired by Senator Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenberg)  presented legislation that would legalize fracking in North Carolina.  Aside from making fracking legal, the bill also contains numerous provisions of concern, including:
 
  • The intentional removal of local government control in the fracking process by invalidating existing local ordinances, and specifically prohibiting new ones;

  • A deliberate lack of transparency by limiting public record requests on industry activities;

  • The easing restrictions to explicitly allow for groundwater contamination up to a certain level.  Under existing rules, you can not put any substance in a well that will contaminate groundwater;

  • Restricting DENR from enforcing any environmental rule or safeguard that would prohibit fracking;

  • Delegating the authority to regulate the oil and gas industry to a costly new bureaucracy, the Oil and Gas Board, consisting of political appointments from the oil and gas industry;

  • Stripping environmental rulemaking authority from the Environmental Management Commission, the board currently tasked with creating environmental rules for every other regulated industry.  The new Board would have certain powers that were taken away from every other state commission in last year’s regulatory reform legislation; and,

  • Forcing unwilling landowners to have gas drilled from under their property if adjacent landowners agree to frack.  

The legislation contrasts sharply with the more conservative approach outlined earlier this month by Rep. Mitch Gillespie (R-McDowell), which calls for more study, with the possibility of legislation to legalize fracking left to a future session.
 
“It’s hard to find anything good in this legislation,” said Molly Diggins, State Director of the NC Sierra Club. “During  the public comment period, people repeatedly supported doing more study, taking our time, and establishing environmental protections.  None of that is in the bill.”
 
The legislation introduced by Sen. Rucho today also legalizes fracking, though delays the issuance of permits.  “Setting a fuse to allow fracking just doesn’t make sense right now,” added Diggins.  “Given what we know so far -- about the size of our resource, about the economic viability of drilling, about the long term health and community impacts – rushing to allow fracking in North Carolina before the tough questions are answered is both irresponsible and unnecessary.”
 
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