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Senate fracking bill up today

Even though everyone agress that the matter needs more study and that there is zero chance of it providing any near-term benefits, the Senate appears bent on barging ahead with a bill to expedite the legalization of fracking in North Carolina. The Senate Commerce Committee will take up the matter at an 11:00 am meeting this morning.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Bob Rucho, claims that North Carolina’s extremely limited natural gas resources are “God-given.”

Molly Diggins, Executive Director of the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club, however, sent out a measured but strong critique of the bill in antcipation of the meeting.

“The legislature will take its first vote on fracking tomorrow when Senate Commerce meets at 11 a.m. to vote on SB 820, Clean Energy and Economic Security Act by Sen. Rucho. The meeting has been moved to Room 642. The committee will hear limited public comment.

“SB 820 directs the development of a major new regulatory program before basic questions about the size of the resource or safety issues have been resolved. A recent. widely praised DENR report identified the need for more study, especially of the hydro-geology of the central part of the state.  NC’s natural gas reserves are much closer to groundwater than in other states, increasing the risk of toxic fracking chemicals contaminating groundwater supplies.

But SB 820 contains no funding and no directive to get the answers to these and other questions. Instead, it charges a new industry-dominated commission with adopting rules for oil and gas development. It explicitly removes the ability of local governments to decide where and how fracking occurs.” 

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