@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

State panel finalizes gas drilling rules

Posted April 16
Updated April 17

— After more than a year and a half of intense study, state regulators have finished their list of safety rules for natural gas drilling in North Carolina.

The Mining and Energy Commission on Wednesday finalized the last eight of more than 120 proposed regulations for companies that plan to explore and drill for gas in the state. The commission will host public hearings in August in Wake, Lee and Rockingham counties to collect more input on the rules before turning them over to lawmakers early next year.

The General Assembly will get the final say on the regulations before any drilling permits are issued, which proponents hope will start next March.

Mining and Energy Commission Chairman Jim Womack said his panel has studied rules in other states where drilling, especially the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is deeply rooted, to draft regulations that will protect the environment and public health without hindering industry.

"What that should give our citizens is reassurance that we're going to have a very low expectation of problems in this state," Womack said.

Fracking involves drilling horizontally through underground deposits of shale and pumping the well full of a mix of water, chemicals and sand to break up the rock and release trapped natural gas. Environmentalists say the process threatens groundwater near drilling sites.

Therese Vick, community organizer and North Carolina Healthy Sustainable Communities campaign coordinator, said the rules-writing process has been rushed and notes the proposed regulations fall short in monitoring air quality around wells.

"There are a lot of holes that need to be closed in these rules," Vick said.

One sore point among fracking foes is that the chemicals drillers use will not have to be made public. Officials say the companies need to protect trade secrets.

Womack said regulators and emergency responders will be privy to the various chemicals used.

"The state will have knowledge of anything that's insidious, anything that is a health hazard or environmental threat," he said.

Such assurances are of little comfort to Vick and other environmentalists, who say North Carolinians are increasingly skeptical about environmental safety in the state.

"The general public is more concerned about who's minding the store, now more than ever," she said.

20 Comments

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  • Rebelyell55 Apr 21, 9:31 a.m.

    This can be stopped here in NC, before it get too far along and the state get sued if they try and stop it. The problem is finding canadiates who are running that are willing to stop it. Both parties are in bed with the gas companies. Also, just because you don't live near where they plan on doing this drilling , don't think for a minute you won't be effected, because the cost to repair roads , fix bridges, clean spills etc will be shared by all tax payers in NC.

  • Rebelyell55 Apr 21, 9:12 a.m.

    "NC DENR turned down a federal grant to do exactly that a few months ago. Said they had plenty of staff and money to handle it themselves."....... But since they can't monitor coal ash ponds due to staff shortages, I don't think they'll be out testing any wells ahead of any drilliing. Their other concerns for NC citizens other than spills and possible ground water contmaination. The amount of water used to drill and flush out the gas is hugh. Guess where the gas companies plan on getting that water? Yes, from our drinking water supply. The could use salt water, but it would cost them a little more to ship it from the coast. So they're planning on using our water supply. Now, where do you think they're planning on putting the waste water? IF the gas companies need you land to put a pipe line in, they'll take it. Many states are starting to rethink and seeing damage by the gas companies. The state panel has many who are directly tied to the gas company.

  • AliceBToklas Apr 17, 5:06 p.m.

    From the article:

    One sore point among fracking foes is that the chemicals drillers use will not have to be made public. Officials say the companies need to protect trade secrets.

    Womack said regulators and emergency responders will be privy to the various chemicals used.

    "The state will have knowledge of anything that's insidious, anything that is a health hazard or environmental threat," he said.

    So, just trust us. You cannot be trusted with this information be everything is just fine.

    Perfect.

  • A cold hard dose of Franz Apr 17, 4:41 p.m.

    Fracking is the best thing to happen to the environment in a long time. It has greatly increased... View More

    — Posted by A cold hard dose of Franz

    They are fracking for gas, not kool-ade.

    Methane is 20X the greenhouse gas ordinary CO2 is. Now... View More

    — Posted by goldenosprey

    Fracking leaks only small amounts methane into the atmosphere. Cow and wetlands release far more... View More

    — Posted by A cold hard dose of Franz

    Let them

    1- disclose the chemicals they will be pumping into the ground
    2- set up a testing system... View More

    — Posted by AliceBToklas

    The chemicals are ALREADY disclosed. Here...

    http://fracfocus.org/chemical-use/what-chemicals-are-used

    Drinking water near wells IS tested. That's federal law.

    As for a fund... that's on the well owners and their insurance.

  • AliceBToklas Apr 17, 4:26 p.m.

    Fracking is the best thing to happen to the environment in a long time. It has greatly increased... View More

    — Posted by A cold hard dose of Franz

    They are fracking for gas, not kool-ade.

    Methane is 20X the greenhouse gas ordinary CO2 is. Now... View More

    — Posted by goldenosprey

    Fracking leaks only small amounts methane into the atmosphere. Cow and wetlands release far more... View More

    — Posted by A cold hard dose of Franz

    Let them

    1- disclose the chemicals they will be pumping into the ground
    2- set up a testing system to assure the drinking water is not contaminated
    3- establish a fund to handle all the consequences if wells are contaminated even years after the well are shut down

    Then I'm all for it. Until then, not so much.

  • A cold hard dose of Franz Apr 17, 3:41 p.m.

    Fracking is the best thing to happen to the environment in a long time. It has greatly increased... View More

    — Posted by A cold hard dose of Franz

    They are fracking for gas, not kool-ade.

    Methane is 20X the greenhouse gas ordinary CO2 is. Now... View More

    — Posted by goldenosprey

    Fracking leaks only small amounts methane into the atmosphere. Cow and wetlands release far more and atmospheric methane is actually FALLING, leveling off between 1980 and 2000. Also, burning methane produces less carbon dioxide for each unit of heat released compared to other hydrocarbon fuels.

    But don't let basic chemistry stand in your way. Lets end all fracking and go back to burning coal. Sound good?

  • AliceBToklas Apr 17, 3:40 p.m.

    Fracking is the best thing to happen to the environment in a long time. It has greatly increased... View More

    — Posted by A cold hard dose of Franz

    Like many things there is the good and the bad. You only present the good. What if you no longer have potable water available at your house? I'm not dead set against it as I do see the good side but I'm worried that the negatives have not been properly addressed.

  • goldenosprey Apr 17, 2:54 p.m.

    Fracking is the best thing to happen to the environment in a long time. It has greatly increased... View More

    — Posted by A cold hard dose of Franz

    They are fracking for gas, not kool-ade.

    Methane is 20X the greenhouse gas ordinary CO2 is. Now that we know some drilling sites are 100 - 1000 times leakier than the industry claimed they are, it's hard to say fracking is an environmental plus.

    Also, will our insurance rates go up when earthquakes become common occurrences?

  • mvenable Apr 17, 2:25 p.m.

    Because everyone knows that big oil/gas and government are wonderful stewards of the environment. What a joke.

  • A cold hard dose of Franz Apr 17, 2:24 p.m.

    Fracking is the best thing to happen to the environment in a long time. It has greatly increased our ability to recover natural gas, which in turn has greatly reduced our need to burn coal for energy. It also supports tens of thousands of jobs that pay very well. We should be celebrating it.

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