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This is from a statement released yesterday by the good people at the Environmental Defense Fund:

“The NC House is poised to approve S 786, the fracking bill, despite previous assurances to citizens to protect air and water quality and delay voting to issue permits until safety regulations are in place. It is premature for legislators to lift the prohibition on issuing permits for oil and gas drilling. Lawmakers should stick to the original plan: delay any vote on hydraulic fracturing until after the Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) approves regulations that reflect community concerns about health and safety.

Lawmakers break their pledges. Read More

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.

 

If they won’t tell us what’s in fracking fluid, and it becomes a crime in NC to reveal fracking chemicals, would it be a crime to keep guessing random substances until you hit one? “Raspberry jam? No. Frappuccino? No. Ethylene glycol? I’m not at liberty to say, but you’re under arrest. Oh, and Starbucks just called about a copyright violation. It’s Frappuccino®, and they’re suing you for defamation. Corporate just called, and raspberry jam may or may not be an ingredient because those seeds keep the cracks apart the same way they get stuck between your teeth, so you’re under arrest for that too. Oh, yeah, and you’re “disturbing” the members of the Legislature, so that’s a Class 1 misdemeanor.”

The NC Senate could give final approval as early as Thursday to a bill that would lift the state’s moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. Members passed the Energy Modernization Act Wednesday 33-13, despite appeals that more study was needed before allowing the state to begin issuing fracking permits in July of 2015.

Senator Buck Newton, a chief sponsor of the bill, criticized Democrats who repeatedly tried to amend the legislation:

“If five years isn’t long enough to figure out how to do it, when all the other states in the country
are figuring our how to do it, how long does it take? 100 years? 200 years? Never? Eternity?” questioned Newton.

Senator Gene McLaurin, an oil and gas company president representing Richmond County, acknowledged the energy bill had led to some soul-searching:

“I love this state too much to make what could be a hasty decision.”

McLaurin was among those voting against the bill Wednesday.

One more vote on Senate Bill 786, and the measure is off to the NC House.

To hear a portion of  the debate on the Senate floor, click below.

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The N.C. Mining and Energy Commission has finalized the proposed safety regulations that companies will need to follow in order to frack for natural gas in our state. Over the past 18 months the commission has adopted 120 rules they believe will ensure that hydraulic fracturing can be done safely.

Still environmentalists worry the process has been rushed. Mary Maclean Asbill with the North Carolina Environmental Partnership and Southern Environmental Law Center says there are very real concerns that fracking will contaminate the state’s groundwater.  Asbill appeared last weekend on News and Views with Chris Fitzsimon to discuss the coalition’s concerns. (Click below to hear an excerpt of that interview; the full radio segment is available here.)

The next step will be a series of public hearings this August in Wake, Lee and Rockingham counties, giving citizens one last chance to weigh in. The Commission is slated to present the rules to the General Assembly by October.

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