Environmental groups hit McCrory with new ad

Posted October 27, 2015

This is a still image from an ad by the N.C. Environmental Partnership ad on Gov. McCrory and fracking that began airing Oct. 27, 2015.

— After two different ads sponsored by conservative groups that support Gov. Pat McCrory went on the air this week, a coalition of environmental advocates has taken to broadcast television with a spot critical of the governor.

The North Carolina Environmental Partnership began airing the 30-second ad in the Raleigh market on Tuesday morning critical of McCrory's support for natural gas drilling legislation. Public records reflecting the size of the buy are not available yet on the Federal Communications Commission's website.

"North Carolina is one of the cleanest and most beautiful states in the nation," an announcer in the ad says. "But fracking could ruin it. Yet Gov. Pat McCrory signed multiple bills to allow fracking. Fracking can pollute our air and threaten our drinking water."

Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is a process used to extract natural gas from layers of shale rock. Although it has been used for years in traditional oil-producing areas, the process is controversial in North Carolina and elsewhere because neighbors of potential fracking sites worry about pollution.

Much like the ads by the conservative groups that began airing Monday, the NCEP ad does not explicitly ask people to vote for or against anyone. However, these kinds of third-party, campaign-style ads have become a key part of the election ecosystem. Just like ads aired by campaigns, they can affect poll numbers and how likely voters are to support or oppose a candidate.

"This is the time of year for our annual accountability work," said Mary Maclean Asbill, a lobbyist with the Southern Environmental Law Center, one of the groups that make up the NCEP.

Asbill said the partnership would be airing ads critical of McCrory and some lawmakers with regard to environmental bills. Among the measures referenced in the McCrory ad, she said, was a bill that limits how cities and counties can regulate fracking operations in their communities. There will be direct mail and social media components to the campaign as well, she said.

Future ads, she said, would target supporters of House Bill 765, a package of regulatory reform measures that environmental advocates objected to. One of the provisions allows companies to avoid certain consequences if they "self report" spills or other violations of environmental regulations. The campaign will target the Raleigh, Greensboro and Asheville markets, Asbill said.

It's worth noting that according to the Department of Environmental Quality's website, no business has applied yet to obtain permission to drill for natural gas in the state.

The N.C. Republican Party took up for McCrory in a response to the ad, dismissing the ad as "fear mongering and peddling false information," noting that even some Democrats support fracking.

"It's no surprise that radical environmental groups are attacking the governor even before he's an announced candidate because they know he has a stellar record of pursuing an all-of-the-above energy strategy to safely create jobs, lower electricity rates and contribute to this nation's energy independence," said North Carolina GOP spokeswoman Kara Carter.

Administration officials said the ad "ignores facts in order to advance a political agenda," saying that increasing national gas production across the nation had lowered energy prices for consumers.

"The unknown individuals paying for this attack ad are most likely heating their homes and offices and powering their electric cars through natural gas piped in from outside our state. How ironic," said Crystal Feldman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Quality.


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  • Hamilton Bean Nov 2, 2015
    user avatar

    If these people wish to oppose fracking, that's on them. But at least make them tell the truth. They show someone holding a match under a kitchen faucet, and flames erupting, supposedly from the natural gas being piped in from fracking. The truth is that shot did not come from N.C--rather it was taken in Pennsylvania many, many years ago--long before the term "fracking" was heard in North Carolina. Oppose all they want--but be truthful.

  • William James Oct 28, 2015
    user avatar

    Natural Gas own engineering data proves up to 20% of fracking wells crack and leach into the soil and water, so why is its safety level debatable when scientific proof is at hands reach? Also, politicians are never held accountable, its not like they are going to have to drink the well water.

  • John McCray Oct 28, 2015
    user avatar

    I enjoy fishing and have many friends that hunt, all of which will be ruined if we continue to sell our resources to the highest bidder for a few bucks.

  • John McCray Oct 28, 2015
    user avatar

    My question is why is a spokeswoman for an agency tasked with providing Environmental protection bashing people who are trying to raise concern over the governments environmental policy short comings? These are not radical environmnetal groups either. These are people that are saying that the rules put on the books by this group of politicians have done nothing for "national" contributions to energy sources, there is no economically viable source of natural gas in North Carolina, they have only opened the door for the hydraulic fracturing of deep aquifers for the purpose of deep disposal of waste. Likewise, bills passed this session have further reduced the measures such as Riparian buffers that were established in our state to stop the fish kills that were occurring in our streams and rivers. High nutrient loads led to algal blooms (remember Red Tide), reducing all the Oxygen levels in the water.

  • Randy Riddle Oct 28, 2015
    user avatar

    To answer the Dept of Environmental Quality administration official who noted that "unknown individuals" were paying for the ad, it should be noted that some of the Southern Povery Law Project's donor are available at OpenSecrets.org. It's a mix of individuals contributing anywhere from $200 to $2,000.

  • Timothy Watson Oct 27, 2015
    user avatar

    We will see what you say when you have to import water from other states and/or countries because the water is too messed up to drink here. Besides the oil that is here is so small, only small oil companies are considering drilling and they are worse polluters around. If you really think there will be a huge windfall vs the overall cost, then you are dreaming, my friend

  • John Kramer Oct 27, 2015
    user avatar

    Drill baby, drill!