Raleigh, N.C. — A Washington, D.C.-based food watchdog group is calling on North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper to investigate Gov. Pat McCrory over the Republican administration's push to fast-track natural gas drilling in the state.
In a letter to Cooper, Food and Water Watch points to places where the governor and his administration may have conflicts of interest on the drilling issue. The nonprofit has worked to pass laws in other states banning hydraulic fracturing drilling, or "fracking," and its causes lean to the political left.
Fracking uses controlled explosions and high-pressure injections of sand, chemicals and water underground. Industry proponents say hydraulic fracturing has been practiced safely for years, while opponents say it threatens water supplies.
Food and Water Watch question why McCrory, a Republican who campaigned on a promise to open the state to fracking, is so vociferously in favor of the practice.
"What we found are serious conflicts of financial interest and a pattern of political patronage that we urge your office to investigate," the letter to Cooper reads. "The McCrory administration and members of the Mining and Energy Commission and the General Assembly have disturbingly close ties to an industry they seek to regulate."
The letter does not reveal any new facts about McCrory or his administration but details his career working for Duke Energy and the fact that several of his top appointees are also former Duke employees. It also raises questions about whether members of the Mining and Energy Commission, which will draw the rules for fracking in the state, would stand to profit by the practice.
Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for Cooper, confirmed that Cooper had received the letter but did not comment on whether his office had jurisdiction to investigate the claims or would attempt to do so.
The group's letter cites dozens of news reports in its footnotes, including posts from WRAL.com.