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While the debate rages on about the Duke-Progress merger and the NC Legislature becomes more determined to create a dirty energy policy for our state, another course is being charted – one that does not involve fracking, offshore drilling, coal-fired power plants or more nuclear power.

© Greenpeace, David Sorcher, 2012

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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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The General Assembly returned to Raleigh last week and a controversial method of natural gas drilling – known as fracking – is already on the Republican agenda with the introduction of the Clean Energy and Economic Security Act – S820 (don’t be fooled by the title).  A recent development in the gas industry may foretell the future of the most cavalier of gas companies. Read More

Duke Energy’s electricity rates are poised to continue skyrocketing over the next few years, but only some customers will feel the burn. While the utility lures the world’s elite technology giants to NC by offering cheap electricity, captive small business and residential customers are charged higher rates. The rate structure is patently unfair and is being challenged before the NC Utilities Commission by environmental watchdog NCWARN.

While this issue has been debated before Commission in the past, Duke Energy has successfully negotiated it away. The NC Attorney General also recognizes the unfairness but has yet to force a resolution to protect consumers. Read More