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Frack-7If you want to understand why the potential for fracking to be a success in North Carolina (either for our economy or our environment) is very, very small, be sure to check out Professor Rob Jackson’s op-ed in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer. His prediction: A very low economic impact driven my marginal exploration companies with little incentive to clean up the messes they make. As the essay notes:

“The shale gas business is similar to Las Vegas, where the casinos know if enough people gamble they’ll make money because the odds are in their favor. Companies work to set the best odds possible in terms of rules and incentives and then drill a lot of wells knowing that most of them will lose money. They’re banking on the quarter or third that strike it rich. It’s an economy of scale.

In North Carolina, we don’t have an economy of scale. It’s true that we’re still learning about our resource here. We don’t know exactly how thick the shale deposits are. We don’t know whether we’ll have 2 percent organic carbon content or 10 percent, or how much propane, butane and even oil we’ll have.

We do know one thing for certain: The total area of shales in our state is tiny compared with other areas in the U.S. and other countries in the world. Nothing is going to change that fact. It’s also the reason big companies aren’t paying attention to North Carolina.

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Frack-free-400The  editorial page of the Wilmington Star-News joins the long and growing list of opponents to the fast-track fracking bill approved by the General Assembly last week.

Among other things, the paper notes the opposition of conservative Republican lawmaker Rick Catlin of New Hanover County:

“Republican Rep. Rick Catlin voted against the bill, as did Democrat Susi Hamilton; both are from New Hanover County. They understand that there is too much at stake and not enough protections for the public or the taxpayers in this bill. Hamilton notes that under this scenario, the General Assembly would have no review of the rules the commission develops, despite assurances to the contrary in previous legislation.

Catlin, an environmental engineer and hydrogeologist knows a thing or two about the risks of fracking.

He is not opposed to gas exploration – on the contrary, he sees it as potentially beneficial to the state, environmentally and economically, if it is done safely and correctly. But he thinks the state is giving up too much oversight and too much potential revenue….

In other words, whether the people like it or not, drilling will occur – potentially affecting their property, their health and the sovereignty of city and town boards made up of residents who will have to live with whatever the oil and gas companies leave behind. And the state won’t get nearly as much money as other states that allow this practice to occur.

This is what passes for ‘doing the will of the people’ in the new North Carolina.”

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FrackingIt was the administration of President George W. Bush that attempted to mask a giveaway to big timber corporations by plastering the label “Healthy Forests Initiative” on the whole scam. Now, in keeping with that proud tradition of deception in the cause of lifting up environmental degradation and corporate profits, North Carolina legislative leaders are attempting to ram through a new law to expedite the introduction of fracking into the state by disingenuously dubbing it the “Energy Modernization Act.”

Fracking is many things, but it is not “energy modernization.” Indeed, fracking represents “modernization” about as much as the widespread reintroduction of corporal punishment  would represent “education modernization.”

The fact of the matter is that fracking has been done for decades in the U.S. My own father “fracked” oil wells during the Eisenhower administration back in the 1950’s.

If anything, fracking represents the opposite of modernization — it is mid-20th Century fossil fuel exploitation at its destructive worst.  And while it appears that conservative politicians are bent on (and will not be dissuaded from) trying to bring fracking and the mess it produces to our fair state, the least they could do is be honest in labeling their efforts.

 

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The latest outrage in the climate change wars comes, not surprisingly and appropriately enough, from Exxon. Think Progress has this story entitled “Exxon is behind the landmark climate report you didn’t hear about”:

Climate change is already impacting all continents. But it isn’t yet impacting all companies. The latest installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report released on Monday confirmed the former. A report released by Exxon Mobil the same day about how greenhouse gas emissions and climate change factor into its business model found that climate change, and specifically global climate policies, are “highly unlikely” to stop it from selling fossil fuels for decades to come. Read More

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Monday November 28th is the final of five hearings of the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) on the request by Duke Power to raise its electricity rates. Between this request, the proposed merger of Progress and Duke and the companies’ dirty energy portfolios, electricity rates for North Carolinians may soon soar. Your voice is needed to stop the rate hikes which in turn can cause Duke to increase efficiency and renewables in its energy mix. Read More