Governor Pat McCrory, backed by Republican legislators and his Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, signed the controversial Energy Modernization Act Wednesday morning. The legislation speeds up the start of natural gas drilling in North Carolina.
The governor said the bill, which zipped through both chambers last week with limited debate , will bring good jobs to rural North Carolina.
“We have watched and waited as other states moved forward with energy exploration, and it is finally our turn. This legislation will spur economic development at all levels of our economy, not just the energy sector,” said McCrory.
The governor also pledged that the new law  has the necessary protections for the environment.
“The expansion of our energy sector will not come at a cost to our precious environment. This legislation has the safeguards to protect the high quality of life we cherish,” continued the governor.
Environmentalists have warned that the bill doesn’t address some of the most controversial elements of the fracking process, including forced pooling and the disposal of toxic fracking fluid.
“This bill sets a course for fracking to begin in 2015 by default, even though state regulators have not yet proposed draft rules for public comment. This approach — buying a pig in a poke — will not protect North Carolina from the devastating impacts this industry has visited on communities in other states,” said Grady McCallie, policy director for NC Conservation Network . “Lawmakers have broken the promise they made in 2012 and again in 2013 — to have the finished package of rules in front of them before deciding whether to allow fracking here — and by his signing, Gov. McCrory has signaled his willingness to put public health and communities at risk, too.”