House OKs 'fracking' changes

Posted June 7, 2013

— State House lawmakers agreed Friday to set a March 2015 date for North Carolina to begin issuing permits for shale gas mining, or "fracking."

However, the House's version of Senate Bill 76 is significantly more cautious than the Senate's.

The Senate's original "fast-track" version would have allowed fracking to begin on March 1, 2015, without legislative approval.

The House version allows the 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.

"It was very important for us to put that in there, because in 2011, we promised this House floor it would come back before this body," said Rep. Mike Stone, R-Lee.

The House version also would not allow the injection of fracking waste fluid 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.

Like Stone, Rep. Jamie Boles, R-Moore, represents an area of the state that would be at the epicenter of fracking. He said there's no reason to rush the starting date.

"We do look forward to industry and the possibility of jobs in North Carolina," Boles said. “But in talking to industry, there’s not an alarm or a necessity to go rapid. They’re wanting best practices."

Skeptics praised the House's more measured approach but said they're still troubled by the bill.

Rep. Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg, reminded the House that the original fracking bill was enacted by her mistaken vote in 2012. She said lawmakers shouldn't set a date for permits until they see a major study due out next fall.

"It is reasonable to wait till the EPA issues a report on whether fracking causes contamination – damage – or not  to the most important issue going forward in this state, our water," said Carney . "I don’t understand why we can’t do and adhere to what we voted on with a mistaken vote last year. What is the rush?"

“This also promotes offshore drilling, and I think many of us are concerned about what that means to our coast,” said Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford. 

But the bill's supporters said it would "provide certainty" to industries that may be interested in fracking in North Carolina, while adding more consumer and environmental safeguards than the Senate version would. 

"I think some of you are just opposed to natural gas exploration, period," said Stone. "I understand that. I respect that. But we've made a decision as a body to start moving forward."

The vote to approve the bill was 68-33 on second reading and 70-33 on the final vote.

It now goes back to the Senate, where leaders aren't happy with the House's changes.


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  • Sherlock Jun 11, 2013

    Great move here, maybe the cost of gas will come down. It has been show this is a good way to get the gas and there are no problems like everyone is jumping at. Tis will bring many jobs to the state.

  • USAF20YR Ret Jun 10, 2013

    All the politicians have pockets full of cash. From today's paper:
    "A federal jury on Friday found former Rep. Stephen LaRoque guilty of fraud and misappropriation of funds." Regardless of party affiliation, they're all crooks. They get in office, and if not already corrupt, quickly learn the system. The water that will be needed to run these operations is unbelievable. You haven't see a real water shortage yet, just wait. I'm all for working on ways too stop our dependency on foreign oil, but not at the expense of our water supply. Just another example of the oil companies filling the pockets of politicians. One word, sell. We did.

  • Deep Thought Jun 10, 2013

    This is a bad thing, jobs will be done by the oil companies' expert employees, poisons the water, encourages even more graft, DON'T LET THIS EVER START.

    Enjoy the clean water while we still have it. Some of what the republicans are doing to our state can never be undone.

  • Monkey_Joe Jun 10, 2013

    Silly hippies with your environmental concerns... Like we could affect the earth's environment. That's so silly! What gives off more CO2? cars or volcanoes? Hmmm I wonder.... one made the dinosaurs extinct and the other contains lava.

  • linkz145 Jun 9, 2013

    Natural gas is mostly methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas, especially in the short term, with 105 times more warming impact, pound for pound, than carbon dioxide (CO2), Howarth said, adding that even small leaks make a big difference. He estimated that as much as 8 percent of the methane in shale gas leaks into the air during the lifetime of a hydraulic shale gas well -- up to twice what escapes from conventional gas production.

  • linkz145 Jun 9, 2013

    Natural gas from fracking could be 'dirtier' than coal, Cornell professors find

  • waltindurham Jun 9, 2013

    The GOP is doing what good political legislators do. They are looking at the facts and making well reasoned decisions. Keep up the good work.


  • teammugs Jun 8, 2013

    Somebody tell me where will they get the water to support the fracking and what will they do with the waste water it creates...where will it come from and where will it go...I'll wait...

  • Grand Union Jun 8, 2013

    "There is PLENTY of gas to be drilled..."

    Lie number 1, there is some....but by US standards not plenty.

    " and clean burning natural gas would help our environment... "

    How does burning anything help our environment????? Sures its better than burning coal, but thats about it.

    "add jobs, create revenue..."

    very few local jobs and a lot less revenue than if we wait 20 years....

  • Grand Union Jun 8, 2013

    "All it has to do is go through a few hundred feet of bedrock in amounts that actually count."

    And by "count" what you mean is be in YOUR water.....
    And as for the "few hundred" feet of bedrock....that has to have holes punched throught it all over the place at the cheapest cost by people who don't give a rats to get to the gas.