Raleigh, N.C. — The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday against changes the House approved to legislation that would open up North Carolina to natural gas drilling.
The Senate's original "fast-track" version would have allowed a drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," to begin on March 1, 2015, without legislative approval.
The House version allows the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources to issue permits on that date but says lawmakers must approve the state's regulatory framework before those permits would be considered valid.
The House also prohibited fracking waste fluid to be pumped into the ground in North Carolina and would allow DENR to regulate and fine land agents who use misleading or unethical practices to convince property owners to sign leases for mineral rights.
"The House did a remarkable number" on the bill, said sponsor Sen. Buck Newton, R-Wilson, calling on senators not to concur with the House changes.
The Senate voted 41-8 against concurrence, sending the legislation to a conference committee.