@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Group says state must monitor air quality at drilling sites

Posted September 12, 2013

— An environmental group said Thursday that the state needs to develop and enforce air quality rules for natural gas drilling sites.

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League delivered a five-page letter to the newly appointed Environmental Management Commission, asking commissioners to order the state Division of Air Quality to develop rules to monitor and control air emissions from drilling wells, waste containment facilities and all equipment associated with gas production.

"It's been really unclear what the Division of Air Quality is going to do, and the time is approaching when the other rule sets are being completed," said Therese Vick, community organization for the environmental group. "They seem to think whatever they have now is sufficient, but we don't agree."

The state Mining and Energy Commission has been meeting for months drafting regulations for gas drilling, including a controversial process known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." The rules are supposed to be completed by next fall and presented to lawmakers for final approval before drilling permits can be issued.

Fracking involves drilling horizontally into underground shale deposits and using a high-pressure mix of water, chemicals and sand to break apart the rock and release trapped natural gas.

The letter presented to EMC Chairman Benne Hutson cites studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and researchers that found toxins such as benzene and volatile organic compounds in the air near fracking wells in other states.

"We want them to protect us now, and we want guarantees," said Denise Lee, a resident of Anson County, which is part of a swath of central North Carolina the contains underground shale.

Anti-fracking sign Fear of toxins in NC air drives demand for monitoring gas wells

Hutson said he understands the concerns and hasn't ruled anything out.

"We'll work with them and any other group on things within our jurisdiction in that regard," he said.

Sheila Holman, director of the Division of Air Quality, said federal rules that regulate the oil and gas industry are on the books, and past studies don't account for emissions standards that will go into effect in 2015.

"We continue to evaluate whether the existing rules are sufficient for regulating this industry," Holman said.

Debbie Hall's property in Lee County sits atop a potential drilling site. Like other demonstrators, she said she doesn't trust the state's regulators.

"I don't feel looked out for. Would you feel looked out for if you lived right there?" Hall said. "I'd like for them to put us, to put our best interest at heart and make rules that'll be so stringent."

15 Comments

This blog post is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • kdogwnc Sep 16, 2013

    whatelseisnew and lots of others need to read up on the principle of compulsory pooling, and the provisions of these fracking leases that some property owners MUST agree to under that antiquated legal concept. Here's the bottom line: if some percentage of landowners of a certain size parcel agree to sign a lease, the other landowners in that parcel must accept lease terms as well. Then, royalties the landowners are entitled to are offset by production costs. Many landowners in PA are getting nothing, after those costs are deducted from their royalty payments.

  • Krimson Sep 16, 2013

    WEIN: "The laws regarding property have been on the books for a long time"

    And the current GOP Led GA certainly would never change any laws, especially when it comes to important individual rights like voting, or education, or (oh no, its the boogie-man) marriage...

  • rushbot Sep 13, 2013

    to rodin..you are right sir or ma'am..100% right!!!

  • Rodin Sep 13, 2013

    This crew wouldn't "put a canary in a coal mine", much less actually let DENR scientists monitor air quality (or water quality, etc.) related to fracking. The only "allmighty" in these Republican's lives is money and the only "green" is the color in the dollar bills they fantasize.

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Sep 13, 2013

    "LOL! I'm pretty sure the party of smaller government and individual rights will have no issues whatsoever using government to trample the rights of individual land-owners."

    "The laws regarding property have been on the books for a long time, yet you choose to take a shot at the GOP. Just typical." - whatelseisnew

    :-) Oh, the terrible agony of hypocrisy.

  • whatelseisnew Sep 13, 2013

    "LOL! I'm pretty sure the party of smaller government and individual rights will have no issues whatsoever using government to trample the rights of individual land-owners."

    The laws regarding property have been on the books for a long time, yet you choose to take a shot at the GOP. Just typical.

  • whatelseisnew Sep 13, 2013

    "But what about the rights of the drilling companies to trample the environment and landowner rights? After all, corporations are people. The Supreme Court says so. And what right is more important than the right to make as much money as you can, while you can?"

    Hey the supreme court said Government can seize your private property and give it to another private person. Then they pretended that forcing people to buy insurance is a tax. The NSA is monitoring everybody. If you go to an airport you get illegally searched. In major cities you are constantly under Government surveillance. Most of your rights are LONG gone. Sadly people WANT this stuff.

  • whatelseisnew Sep 13, 2013

    I think this group should pay for the monitoring.

  • miseem Sep 13, 2013

    LOL! I'm pretty sure the party of smaller government and individual rights will have no issues whatsoever using government to trample the rights of individual land-owners...
    watts1000. (had to change the tag to watts1000 - flagged by censor)

    But what about the rights of the drilling companies to trample the environment and landowner rights? After all, corporations are people. The Supreme Court says so. And what right is more important than the right to make as much money as you can, while you can?

  • jgilchr Sep 13, 2013

    How about not fracking at all?! Again just remember who is responsible when it falls apart.

More...