NC takes first steps toward offshore drilling, 'fracking'

Posted June 13, 2011
Updated June 14, 2011

North Carolina lawmakers on Monday tentatively approved a bill that would push the state toward alternative sources of energy and, sponsors say, create jobs in the process.

Senate Bill 709, the Energy Jobs Act, is designed to encourage energy exploration off the North Carolina coast and study inland opportunities, a move backers say would reduce North Carolina's reliance on foreign oil. It also represents the state’s first steps toward allowing offshore drilling and the controversial process of separating natural gas from rock known as "hydrofracking" or just "fracking."

Opponents worry the bill has moved too quickly and ignores environmental concerns and diminishes renewable energy efforts.

The House gave tentative approval 67-44 to the bill which directs the governor to enter a compact with the governors of South Carolina and Virginia to develop a strategy to get the federal government to hear offshore exploration permits and proposals.

The governors also would lobby Congress so the states can get natural gas or oil royalties.

Gov. Bev Perdue and lawmakers also would get a report by next year about the commercial potential for inland natural gas production through "fracking." 

"I think it's time to get crackin' on frackin,'" said Rep. John Blust (R-Guilford) in support of the bill.

The House recently passed another measure sponsored by Rep. Mitch Gillespie (R-McDowell), House Bill 242, which took a much more cautious approach to fracking. 

The final House vote is set for Tuesday. WRAL.com will stream the debate live beginning at 3 p.m. After that, it goes back to the Senate for approval of the big changes made by the House.



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  • ghermie1 Jun 15, 2011

    geosol, my comment was more related to the redundancy of writing "new" laws to target the same old problem, rather than enforcing the old laws. A classic, recent example of this is the new "no smoking in public parks" law. This law makes no sense. Is it an air quality law? Well it fails because you can still smoke in the parking lot at the parks. Not to mention parks that are adjacent to lakes still experience nasty, two-stroke engine exhaust. No, this law was written to help address littered cigarette butts in parks. But we already have litter laws on the books! In the same way, our government writes new laws that are redundant to the existing laws. But the laws still have to be tracked: money still has to be spent on researching and understanding the laws (like the 2000+ page universal healthcare act) so that compliance is assured. It is a nearsighted comment to say that we don't already have enough rules, regulations, etc to keep things in check. Be honest with yourself.

  • The Fox Jun 14, 2011

    [What chemicals do they pump in the ground when fracking?]The main substance is a swelling clay mned in Georgia. It is baked into small spheres. When injected into the ground it swells and cracks open the rock opening up pore spaces. Much of any contamination comes from the sulfates and petroleum already in the groud. The trouble begins when an aquifer is breached allowing groundwater and these compounds to mix.

  • geosol Jun 14, 2011

    Sorry, but i vehemently disagree with your statement that "we have the cleanest air, water, hygiene, living conditions, etc. To say that most laws could be done away with, with no effect, is an understatement!" The fact that we have mostly clean water and air is a testament to how well those laws and rules are working. Its a strawman argument to say that their effectiveness means that we can afford to get rid of them. Makes no sense. Once our water is impaired, it often takes decades to clean it up. We can't afford to take chances and risk the future based on wishful thinking and ideology.

  • ghermie1 Jun 14, 2011

    geosol thanks for the reply. Despite everything written on here, when all things are said and done and the means and methods are weighed, I still say drill. To not drill costs too much, both in unrealized future earnings and because we currently don't have any executable alternatives on the table that would replace oil and natural gas. The days are fast approaching when green technologies will compete with fossil fuel technologies. That is a double edged sword in and of itself. When that day comes it will be great for the environment...and the wealth of natural resources that we are currently sitting on will no longer be worth anything on the world market.

    As for the protections that the bills gut, I believe the majority of these protections unfortunately also hinder business. We have enough laws on the books already: we have the cleanest air, water, hygiene, living conditions, etc. To say that most laws could be done away with, with no effect, is an understatement!

  • geosol Jun 14, 2011

    rickharper wrote: "Have you guys read the bill?..." Yes, both SB709 and HB242. Both propose a study for hydrofracking and nobody has a problem with that part. SB709, however, guts many existing protections and gets rid of many important conservation incentives. The average, educated North Carolinian is rightfully concerned about those aspects of SB709, but not hyperpartisan hacks like Keepin-it-trollin'-in-NC, who believe that there is an endless supply of non-polluting fossil fuels out there waiting to just jump out. When you have people like that spouting off in favor of your position, you need to ask if maybe you missed something really, really important.

  • raleighindependent Jun 14, 2011

    What chemicals do they pump in the ground when fracking?

  • WooHoo2You Jun 14, 2011

    I love when you here the supportors being interviewed on the subject that simply use the word 'gas' and people assume it is the same thing you put in your car not NATURAL GAS.

    How is this going to help at the pumps / "reduce North Carolina's reliance on foreign oil" if we have almost no natural gas vehicles on he road?

  • fishon Jun 14, 2011

    Weigh in and discuss Hydrofracking with the experts next week June 21 on OPEN/net. There will be an expert panel featuring... Government and local global warming expert and a director of an energy consortium.

    Have any of these people actually done this? They should have invited Halliburton.

  • Self Propelled Jun 14, 2011

    Weigh in and discuss Hydrofracking with the experts next week June 21 on OPEN/net. There will be an expert panel featuring Dr. Kenneth B Taylor, Assistant State Geologist and Chief of the North Carolina Geological Survey in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; Dr. Robert B Jackson, Professor of Global Environmental Change at the Duke Nicholas School of the Environment, and Dr. Vikram Rao, Executive Director of the Research Triangle Energy Consortium.

  • momeeee Jun 14, 2011

    NO FRACKING!!!!!