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Environmental group says 'fracking' will cost NC cities, towns

Posted September 20, 2012

— A report issued Thursday by an environmental group says North Carolina's local governments could end up paying a high price for natural gas drilling.

Lawmakers passed legislation over Gov. Beverly Perdue's veto in July that would allow a controversial method of drilling known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," in the state as soon as late 2014. A newly created Mining and Energy Commission has begun meeting to draw up regulations for the industry.

The state law doesn't allow local governments to ban fracking, but Environment North Carolina, which opposes the practice, says in a new report that local governments could be left with the bill for any damage cause by gas drilling.

Fracking involves drilling horizontally into underground deposits of shale and then pumping a high-pressure mix of water and chemicals into a well to break apart the rock and release natural gas.

The Environment North Carolina report states that drilling could contaminate water supplies with toxic wastewater. The heavy trucks and equipment used to haul in the well apparatus and the water and sand used in drilling could ruin roads and bridges, and the presence of nearby gas wells could lower property values, according to the group.

The 49-page report cites anecdotal evidence from other states, such as Pennsylvania and Texas, where shale gas drilling is widespread, but it doesn't forecast any costs for North Carolina.

Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton said he believes fracking accidents will happen, and he says they could cause lasting damage that the drillers won't have to fix.

"There's only so much they would ever have to pay for because, if nothing else, they can go bankrupt," Chilton said. "We don't have that choice as taxpayers in North Carolina. We don't have the choice to simply walk away and shrug and say, 'Oh well, bad decision, I guess.' We're stuck with the consequences of what these people do to our environment."

Anti-fracking news conference NC group wants tough regulations for gas drilling

North Carolina Petroleum Council Executive Director Bill Weatherspoon doesn't deny there have been past problems in other states, but he said the two-year process state lawmakers put in place to create regulations will produce the best safeguards in the country.

"There are always some struggles in every industry. However, every year, we get better. Every year, our technology gets better. I think that this is an opportunity," Weatherspoon said.

Drilling supporters like Weatherspoon say fracking will bring jobs and economic development into the 12 counties in central North Carolina that may have shale gas reserves.

"The reality is that local communities are where you see the big winners. You see an increase in trade and commerce and jobs," he said.

Backers say drillers will have to pay impact fees and bonds to protect communities in case of accidents, but the Environmental North Carolina report called for "dramatically higher bonds that reflect the true cost of fracking" and extensive regulations on drilling.

"There's economic benefits and economic harms that come from fracking, and the question is, is anybody seriously looking at what the balance of the equation is?" Chilton said.

Kelli Kukura, director of government affairs for the North Carolina League of Municipalities, is part of a working group looking at that question. While some cities and towns in the state don't want the gas wells, others are eager for them, she said.

"We do have some confidence in the process that we'll be able to have a voice as we go forward," Kukura said.

66 Comments

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  • trubtold Sep 21, 4:51 p.m.

    Fight it in court. Seems to me if they know where and who dumped the CA causing agents they have a strong case.

    Invest now in bottle water stocks......really chicken little?
    Response:
    Those companies are probable long gone and you'll never get the money out of them..they'd go bankrupt first. You are a Chicken Little if you believe their will not be any consequences from fracking. What do you think will happen to property values in areas where fracking is occuring? Maybe they will frack under your property...hope you have well water...bet you would like that!

  • FAQ-U Sep 21, 3:20 p.m.

    Have you talked to those families in Wake Forest who own homes that are now worthless because of their polluted well water from cancer causing agents. Fracking will eventually get into the water systems if allowed. Nothing is foolproof. These companies and politicians will come in get their money off this deal and get out as fast as they can, leaving the citizens of NC with a mess and huge cleanup bill. Invest now in bottled water stocks!
    trubtold

    Fight it in court. Seems to me if they know where and who dumped the CA causing agents they have a strong case.

    Invest now in bottle water stocks......really chicken little?

  • signify6644 Sep 21, 3:18 p.m.

    These environmental groups need to be sued NOW for all the jobs they have killed. In the billions, I am sure.

  • trubtold Sep 21, 2:47 p.m.

    Have you talked to those families in Wake Forest who own homes that are now worthless because of their polluted well water from cancer causing agents. Fracking will eventually get into the water systems if allowed. Nothing is foolproof. These companies and politicians will come in get their money off this deal and get out as fast as they can, leaving the citizens of NC with a mess and huge cleanup bill. Invest now in bottled water stocks!

  • FAQ-U Sep 21, 10:47 a.m.

    "the people of their area have been positively effected with jobs,"

    for a few years at best...

    " timber to heat their houses when they cleared the land,"

    and thats a good thing?

    " business moving in to support the workers and families."

    as they would in 20 years time when the gas is worth a lot more.....

    NEGATIVE, NEGATIVE, NEGATIVE

    WOW where do you live? you need to come back to reality we need energy now not in 20 years. When are jobs bad? Would you rather they left the wood to rot or give it away to those who want and would benefit from it?

    What energy solution do you propose?

  • FAQ-U Sep 21, 10:43 a.m.

    and likewise saying it won't does not mean it will not. What we do know however, that not fracking will do no harm at all. The gas has been there for millions of years....a few more won't hurt.....and if we can find a clean way to get it out then it will be worth more then, than now.
    Crabbit Cratur

    I will be the first to admit there is no 100% clean reliable way to get _____ out of the ground. Does that mean we do NOTHING? We just sit and wait for.......what....if this was the case we wouldn't have the things we have today. What if we didn't move forward because a few would be negatively affected, where would we be then? To make an omelette you have to break some eggs. Your false utopia where everything is safe and beautiful dosent exist, progress is ugly but necessary

  • Crabbit Cratur Sep 21, 10:30 a.m.

    "the people of their area have been positively effected with jobs,"

    for a few years at best...

    " timber to heat their houses when they cleared the land,"

    and thats a good thing?

    " business moving in to support the workers and families."

    as they would in 20 years time when the gas is worth a lot more.....

  • Crabbit Cratur Sep 21, 10:28 a.m.

    "Saying it will cause problems does not mean it will."

    and likewise saying it won't does not mean it will not. What we do know however, that not fracking will do no harm at all.
    The gas has been there for millions of years....a few more won't hurt.....and if we can find a clean way to get it out then it will be worth more then, than now.

  • RKBA Sep 21, 10:12 a.m.

    Saying it will cause problems does not mean it will.

  • Luvthesky Sep 21, 10:05 a.m.

    @Bost
    uh...we do know it to be devastating to our natural environment. thats why almost anyone that is not an extreme political partisan and cares about humans, and our environment, know that fracking in every location it's been done has done damage to the very thing humans depend on for life..WATER!

    Thanks Bost...agree with everything that you wrote. Conservative here and I am thinking this should not be turned into partisan issue. NC Say NO TO FRACKING!!!

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