The newly formed group set to guide natural gas exploration in North Carolina is expected to start meeting without consideration by the State Ethics Commission.
The 15-member Energy and Mining Commission was appointed by government leaders to oversee hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” The group is scheduled to begin meeting in September. The Ethics Commission met for several hours on Friday, but didn’t take up the issue of the fracking board and its membership. The Ethics Commission isn’t set to meet again until November.
Citing a potential conflict of interest, various environmental groups have criticized the selection of Ray Covington to the fracking oversight group. He is co-founder of North Carolina Oil and Gas, which manages mineral rights leases for landowners in return for a share of future profits. Covington denies any conflict of interest exists in his service on the commission.
Jane Pinsky, director of the North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform, told WRAL News she’s concerned that the Energy and Mining Commission will begin work as an “uncovered board.” She says any government-related agency with the power to guide policy in North Carolina needs transparency and scrutiny.