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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

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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

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On tax day, here’s some news that will make your blood boil – Citizens for Tax Justice re-released its report about Fortune 500s federal tax payments from 2008 through 2010, adding new information for 2011. One of our NC based companies – Duke Energy – paid a net federal tax bill of negative 3.5% for those years.

Duke Energy just received a big fat rate increase, is looking for another one this year and would love for the legislature to give them the ability to get even more money out of ratepayers to pre-fund nuclear power plants – plants that even Wall Street won’t invest in.

The report also shows that if companies actually paid the 35% corporate tax rate, it could help reduce the nation’s deficit.  If the Fortune 500s had paid the full 35% corporate tax rate between 2008 and 2011, we’d have $78.3 billion more in federal tax income.

Thanks to NC WARN for bringing this report to my attention.