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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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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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North Carolina’s natural environment has been inundated with a lot of poison in recent days — so much, in fact, that a lot of folks may have forgotten the fact that state leaders are pushing hard to inject a lot more poison into the ground and water in the coming years. Happily, one of the state’s most celebrated native sons is speaking out against it in an ad on behalf of the good folks at the Natural Resources Defense Council.  Click below to watch it.

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The Fayetteville Observer got it right over the weekend with this editorial:

“After all the ethical disasters the General Assembly has seen in the past few years, House Speaker Thom Tillis should have the definition of conflict on the tip of his tongue.

He doesn’t. In fact, he may be clueless.

How else could he have named Sanford businessman Ray Covington to the new Energy and Mining Commission? That’s the body that will come up with guidelines and safety regulations for natural-gas extraction in North Carolina by the hydraulic-fracturing method – fracking….”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

 

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Even though everyone agress that the matter needs more study and that there is zero chance of it providing any near-term benefits, the Senate appears bent on barging ahead with a bill to expedite the legalization of fracking in North Carolina. The Senate Commerce Committee will take up the matter at an 11:00 am meeting this morning.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Bob Rucho, claims that North Carolina’s extremely limited natural gas resources are “God-given.”

Molly Diggins, Executive Director of the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club, however, sent out a measured but strong critique of the bill in antcipation of the meeting. Read More