One day after hundreds of fracking opponents urged lawmakers to take a cautious approach to natural gas exploration, Republicans in the NC Senate pushed through Senate Bill 820 to legalize the controversial drilling practice.
Democratic Senators Josh Stein, Ellie Kinnaird, and Martin Nesbitt raised environmental and health concerns, urging the chamber to slow down, and not turn the matter over to an industry-led commission to create state safeguards.
“If in fact, all this stuff we put under the ground under pressure over time will come up to our aquifers, we’re dead in the water,” warned Nesbitt.
Republican Senator Jerry Tillman said it would be a waste of time for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to consult any further on the safety of fracking:
“Let’s put every option on the table and get on with it,” said Tillman.
SB 820 passed 29-19 and now heads to the state House. Bill sponsor Senator Bob Rucho has said no drilling will occur before 2014.
To watch the highlights of Wednesday’s fracking debate, click below.