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From the Editor: Fracking series to explore potential for huge changes

Posted May 16, 2014
Updated May 18, 2014

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— Perhaps no legislation the General Assembly is considering this year has a greater potential for changing the landscape and economy of central North Carolina than the decisions to be made about fracking.

Shale deposits under Lee County are believed to be rich in natural gas. Getting at them requires the process known as fracking, in wells are dug deep, then turned horizontally to facilitate pumping water and chemicals into the shale to force out the valuable fuel stores.

In a six-part series that starts Sunday, senior public life reporter Andrew Barksdale and photographer Andrew Craft explore the potential benefits and pitfalls of fracking. Their work is especially timely, because the General Assembly session that starts Wednesday could result in votes that allow the process to begin next year.

Their reporting on the series has taken them to the farms of Lee County and to rural Pennsylvania, where fracking has been going on since 2008. They write about the economic boom that accompanies large-scale drilling operations. And they write about the environmental risks, traffic problems and life-style changes that happen in a rural community where fracking becomes a reality.

The series is months in the making and is part of the Observer's commitment to spend time and resources to tell the stories most important to our readers.


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