WRAL Investigates

NC landowners, lawmakers divided over fracking

Posted November 11, 2011
Updated November 26, 2011

— Geologists say six North Carolina counties have the potential for natural gas production, with the best prospects in Lee County. Getting that gas, using a process called fracking, has divided some local landowners and lawmakers.

North Carolina currently has no natural gas production, but legislative leaders appear poised to give the green light for drilling, as public hearings continue across the state. Lawmakers, who already visited Pennsylvania, where the hydraulic fracturing industry has grown rapidly, plan to visit again in the coming week.

A state study on the impact of natural gas drilling is due out next May.

Some landowners are already signing leases to allow the drilling on their land, hoping to cash in. Meanwhile, environmental groups are lining up to fight.

Landowners weigh pros, cons of fracking Landowners weigh pros, cons of fracking

Shale rock in the Deep River Basin runs through several counties. Lee County is considered the hot spot, but the line of shale also hits parts of Chatham, Durham, Granville, Moore and Wake counties.

Dan Butler owns 2,700 acres in Lee County that are under lease for the prospect of gas production.

“I have no idea if I'm going to make out or not. It has not been developed. Just because you have acreage doesn't mean you're going to get anything at all,” he said.

Butler says he is tired of people who only focus on the negative aspects of fracking.

“If people would just keep an open mind and consider the facts,” he said.

Pennsylvania farmers Carol French and Carolyn Knapp have spent the past few days warning North Carolina about water contamination, traffic and the frustration for neighbors not under lease.

“Our safety and well-being are in question,” French said.

Some state lawmakers see it differently.

“You could feel the prosperity, you could feel the wealth, you could feel the economic growth, and you definitely saw the jobs,” said Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, who visited Pennsylvania.

“We can take the best ideas and put them in place in North Carolina,” he added.

Rucho said he believes North Carolina can incorporate regulations learned from others’ trial and error – mandating wastewater recycling, testing well water before and after drilling and making sure companies pay to repair roads torn up by trucks transporting equipment and materials to and from drilling sites.

Still, Moore County landowner Joe McDonald said he is not interested in participating.

“The U.S. Mint can’t print enough money to induce me to let fracking take place on my land,” he said.


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  • bigal02282 Nov 15, 2011

    Anything that is good for us and protects us is Anti-American now is it? I've got your anti-American right here. Come and get it.

  • bigal02282 Nov 15, 2011

    You might wish to read this. It is a just-released study from the EPA finding at least ONE chemical directly related to fracking in the groundwater aquifer in Wyoming where extensive fracking is going on, along with a host of other chemicals which while they cannot be directly linked to fracking, are most likely there due to some man-made activity. http://www.propublica.org/article/epa-finds-fracking-compound-in-wyoming-aquifer

  • Zoey0815 Nov 14, 2011

    Look, if the "liberals" are wrong, no harm, no foul, however; if the "liberals" are right, what do you propose to drink when your water supply is contaminated? What will you do when too many local kids have cancer.
    Those who want to leap in to fracking with both feet had better do some investigating into superfund sites and hazardous waste cleanup. I think you'll be interested to find out who, in the end, pays for a large portion of the lax environmental regulations of corporations.
    There seems to be no argument that smoking causes cancer, among other ailments. Why is it so hard to believe that releasing toxins into the air might be killing the earth and all of us on it?

  • dib Nov 14, 2011

    Carbon Dioxide is not an inert gas so I have no idea why you claim such a thing.

  • haggis basher Nov 14, 2011

    "We NEED the energy supplies....stop buying the green anti-American nonsense and wake up."

    Its Anti American to not want to frack up our water supply forever to get a few year of gas that will make fortunes for a few and leave the rest of us with the bill to clean up the mess?.......actually sadly it is.........its just about the story of US land exploitation.

  • haggis basher Nov 14, 2011

    "CO2 is an INERT gas....it does not cause GW or any other nonsense. Jeeez..think, people...there is NO GW anyway."

    And you know this how?

  • Alex25 Nov 11, 2011

    Solar, wind, etc CANNOT touch our energy needs. not even close!

  • Alex25 Nov 11, 2011

    CO2 is an INERT gas....it does not cause GW or any other nonsense. Jeeez..think, people...there is NO GW anyway.

  • whatusay Nov 11, 2011

    godnessgracious2.... hate to burst your bubble, but help is legal...it's not an illegal crop.

  • Alex25 Nov 11, 2011

    We NEED the energy supplies....stop buying the green anti-American nonsense and wake up.