This is from a statement released yesterday by the good people at the Environmental Defense Fund:
“The NC House is poised to approve S 786, the fracking bill, despite previous assurances to citizens to protect air and water quality and delay voting to issue permits until safety regulations are in place. It is premature for legislators to lift the prohibition on issuing permits for oil and gas drilling. Lawmakers should stick to the original plan: delay any vote on hydraulic fracturing until after the Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) approves regulations that reflect community concerns about health and safety.
Lawmakers break their pledges.
The bill reneges on legislators’ promises to North Carolinians to conduct a thorough legislative review before taking any votes that would allow permitting for drilling. S 786 ignores the pledges by removing prohibitions on permitting before fully reviewing the completed regulatory program.
Rulemaking is far from complete.
The MEC is continuing to develop standards to protect our communities and environment from the impacts associated with oil and gas development, but the rule making process is far from complete. Later this summer North Carolinians have their first formal opportunity to evaluate the proposed regulations. Comments will almost certainly identify areas for improvement.
NC lacks standards for discharged wastewater. And ditto for air pollution.
A major concern that is currently unaddressed is water quality. Proposed rules mistakenly allow treated wastewater from oil and gas operations to be discharged into North Carolina’s rivers and streams. What’s troubling is that the state has no water quality standards for many of the contaminants in the wastewater. The MEC does not have the authority to establish water quality standards, and the legislature has not asked the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) to establish standards. To make matters worse, North Carolina does not have air quality standards to protect communities from oil and gas operations. The MEC, EMC and Department of Environment & Natural Resources have not even started to develop any rules to protect the air we breathe.
Health care providers get choked by a gag rule.
Failing to learn from the experiences of other states, S 786 makes health care providers subject to a misdemeanor if they reveal trade secret fracking chemicals to their patients or other health professionals necessary for the diagnosis and treatment of a patient. This constraint may prevent complete and honest dialogue with patients, compromise patient care, and violate medical ethics and standards of professional practice.