This morning’s lead editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer tells it like it is with respect to the state’s pro-fracking forces and a little thing called “science.” As the N&O explains, compelling evidence on the dangers of fracking from experts at Duke University is being summarily ignored by the Mining and Energy Commission because it presents some inconvenient truths.
Robert Jackson and Avner Vengosh of Duke University’s esteemed Nicholas School are viewed by some in the oil and gas industry as enemies. At Duke, they’ve done studies with compelling evidence that shale gas extraction, fracking, causes drinking water problems in other states.
The industry, which got North Carolina to lift its moratorium on fracking with drilling next year, has long made the case that drilling is absolutely safe.
Jackson and Vengosh have serious doubts about that, and given that the Nicholas School in the field of environmental science is considered among the elite in the county, it would be logical to assume that state officials developing rules to govern shale gas exploration would want to hear from them.
But the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission did not invite either Jackson or Vengosh to offer any views while commission members were in the process of determining the rules.
“With all due respect to Avner Vengosh,” said recently resigned commission Chairman James Womack, “he’s not interested in drilling. His studies are all aimed at the downside of oil and gas development.”
Vengosh says instead that he’s all about science.
And Vengosh and Jackson, who’s taking a job at Stanford University, have some pretty strong science behind their belief that fracking causes contamination of drinking water, among other problems….
These issues are worrisome, of course, because since taking over all three branches of state government, Republicans have loosened environmental rules in the name of being “business friendly” and to some degree because they have long viewed environmental protection as a “liberal” cause.
Can they be counted upon to do their due diligence when it comes to safety research about fracking, even to the point of changing course and acknowledging that perhaps fracking isn’t for North Carolina after all? It’s a legitimate question. Unfortunately, Republicans apparently don’t want to talk to anyone who might give them an answer they don’t want to hear.
Read the entire editorial by clicking here.