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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

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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

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NC Voters for Clean Elections is out with a new and, sadly, not terribly surprising report on the big campaign money flowing from the pro-fracking crowd. This is from the release that accompanied the report:

RALEIGH, N.C. – As North Carolina lawmakers take up a new bill on hydraulic fracturing, the much-debated energy drilling method commonly known as “fracking,” a new report finds that energy interests tied to fracking gave campaign contributions to more than 100 state legislators between 2009 and 2011.

The report by N.C. Voters for Clean Elections, a state coalition focused on the role of money in politics, also finds that legislators who supported a pro-fracking bill in 2011 received more than triple the amount of campaign money from energy interests than did opponents of the legislation. Read More