The heated debate about whether hydraulic drilling for natural gas in shale formations (called fracking) should be allowed in North Carolina has mostly focused on technical issues. Will chemicals used in drilling for natural gas contaminate water supplies? What about air pollution emitted during fracking? Shouldn’t we study this issue before making a decision to overturn the state’s ban on this type of drilling?
These questions miss the point – to allow more extraction of fossil fuels will increase global warming pollution and slow the uptake in renewable energy – wasting precious time to address climate change.
The whole dust up around fracking comes down to this – according to a recent study  by the US Department of Energy (DOE), shale formations have the potential to increase the recoverable gas reserves of the world by 40% – and that’s a game changer, says the DOE.
Over the past five years, natural gas availability has increased by 20% in the US. In the past, shale formations were considered impenetrable, but hydraulic drilling has changed that. Like North Carolina, several states are considering measures to address the increase demand for fracking. Michigan, Arkansas, Wyoming and Texas are adopting new rules and New York State has a ban in place while it considers the impact on water and air from fracking.
The film Gasland  has also kicked up some dust, showing how the Congress-mandated loopholes in the Clean Water Act have contributed to contamination of drinking water from Wyoming to Pennsylvania from fracking. The film’s website also has some handy facts about the enormous amount of water and chemicals used in the drilling process.
There is a bill pending in the NC House, HB242 , which proposes to spend $100,000 to study the effects of natural gas drilling – much of which is located in Lee County.
Let’s save the $100 grand and say F*@# fracking. Natural gas will come to NC from other states, even if we maintain the ban on fracking. While many experts consider gas a bridge from coal to clean energy, some state some where needs to stand up and send a clear message that efficiency and clean, renewable energy is the priority. With that decision comes new job opportunities, healthier residents and the rejection of natural gas fracking. That would kick up some real dust across the country –
Headline: North Carolina rejects fossil fuel extraction and leads the way in efficiency and clean, renewable energy.