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Regardless of what one thinks about the legislation to fast-track the legalization of fracking in North Carolina, you would think that since the bill calls for the state to embark upon an enormously ambitious regulatory/rule-making process over the next several months, lawmakers would want to actually have state employees in place to make it happen.

You would think.

But, of course, we’re not talking about a rational situation here; we’re talking about the Alice-in-Wonderland world of the 2012 General Assembly. Read More

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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More distasteful sausage was ground at the General Assembly this morning — this time in the House Committee on (Pillaging the) Environment. As reported in many places, the subject was fracking and the apparently irresistable move to get a law on the books legalizing the practice in North Carolina for the first time.

The committee meeting was notable and disheartening for a number of reasons –

  • the lack of genuine debate and dialogue, Read More

If they really care about protecting personal property rights vis a vis big powerful institutions, then by God let’s hope they read this article in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer about the threats to them posed by the fracking industry.

As Michelle Nowlin of Duke points out:

“Many citizens will be surprised to learn that North Carolina law authorizes private, for-profit corporations to take the property of private landowners for certain purposes. Relevant to the fracking debate is the authority of for-profit entities that build pipelines and mains to transport petroleum products, coal, gas, limestone or minerals to condemn private land. This means that Read More

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While it’s true that the North Carolina General Assembly is not really designed to accommodate large public audiences — at least in most committee rooms — there was something troubling and all-too-familiar about the way this morning’s Senate Commerce Committee meeting on a bill to legalize fracking went down.

Last week, when the bill came up, the committee room was so crowded that dozens of people — some with other business before the committee — were kept out. Yesterday, in an apparent bow to the crowds of fracking opponents expected today, the committee announced that it would move to Room 643 in the Legislative Office Building – the legislature’s largest committee room and a place from which an interent audio feed is available.

Unfortunately,  the switch didn’t last. Read More