North Carolina Fracking Fracas
North Carolina is the latest state to look at allowing development of its shale gas deposits using hydrologic fracturing (or fracking).
On the American Rivers blog, we have previously discussed the hazards to our rivers and clean water supplies that fracking poses. Most recently, we highlighted the concerns surrounding natural gas development with the inclusion of the Grand River in Ohio on our annual list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
On Tuesday, the NC Senate Commerce Committee debated and heard testimony from concerned citizens on their proposed bill- S820, the Clean Energy and Economic Security Act. Legislators in NC have been moving slowly on this issue and promising to protect the environment, water supplies, and landowners; they have been trying to learn from the errors of other states.
Unfortunately, they have not learned enough and the proposed legislation has loopholes so big that a fracking waste water truck could drive through them. The current version of the bill fails to:
- Require the studies recommended by DENR to properly protect clean water and people
- Set strong standards for well siting, development, and construction
- Require disclosure of potentially harmful fracking fluids that have caused health problems in other states
- Have adequate provisions for the management of wastewater
- Provides no provisions for collecting baseline water and soil data to track the environmental and health effects of fracking
- Protect local authority-- the local communities have no recourse should the state issue a permit to drill a fracking well inside their municipal boundaries
- Address the effects of noise and lighting that have caused private property values to plummet in other states
- Create a truly scientific board of experts to sit on the newly created Oil and Natural Gas Board The NC General Assembly should not rush to pass this flawed policy.
There are better alternative policy proposals, like Representative Mitch Gillespie’s (R-Marion) H 1064, Shale Gas/Develop Reg. Prgm./Leg. Oversight [PDF], that are not ideal but put North Carolina on track to move forward to regulate fracking responsibly.
The NC General Assembly needs to spend more time refining the process and weighing the costs and damages associated with natural gas development using fracking.