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Environmentalists say the fracking bill passed Thursday by the NC House does not allow sufficient time to develop rules to ensure families and communities will be protected from the risks associated with natural gas development.

Jane Preyer, director of the Southeast office of the Environmental Defense Fund, calls the timeline set out in Senate Bill 820 both arbitrary and irresponsible:

“The new law does not give agencies time, staff or money to know the facts and develop responsible policies.  This is a new industry for North Carolina.  State agencies are being forced to write regulations in the dark,” said Preyer.  “North Carolina must not write regulations without facts on impacts to communities, the environment and public health.  Setting 2014 as a deadline is arbitrary and irresponsible.  Geologists say gas resources here are modest and will not attract industry interest for years, so it makes no sense for the legislature to race this fast on such a big decision for the state.”

House Democrats urged their Republican colleagues to allow more time for study, to create better consumer protections for landowners.

But McDowell County Republican Rep. Mitch Gillespie made it clear compromise was not in the cards:

“What my father told me one time, he says, ‘You can go and give and compromise, but there comes a point where you have to stop.’ And so I have personally reached that point,” said Gillespie, urging his Republican colleagues to vote down any amendment offered to his bill.

The NC House voted 66-43 to pass S 820, which now returns to the Senate to concur with House changes.

To listen to the tone of Thursday’s debate, click below:

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