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Chatham County fired up over fracking

A North Carolina county is reviewing a high-pressure drilling technique that could unleash jobs and profits but carries pollution risks.

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PITTSBORO, N.C. — Chatham County is reviewing a high-pressure drilling technique called "fracking" that could unleash jobs and profits but carries pollution risks.

At a public information session on oil and gas exploration Monday night, a largely anti-fracking crowd spoke out about the controversial drilling method.

"I moved to North Carolina because it is so fresh and clean and because it is one of the new unspoiled areas," said Chatham County resident Karen Howard. "I'd like us to keep that."

Raleigh resident Marvin Woll agreed, saying job creation doesn't outweigh environmental risks.

"I think there are some people that think this is going to provide jobs, but from everything I've read, it might provide a few hundred jobs (only)," Woll said. "Do we want to risk the future of the planet for my son (and) all these other kids for a couple hundred jobs? No."

The public forums are intended to inform residents who live in areas where some land has already been leased for future natural gas drilling.

Opponents and supporters of the hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina packed two hearings in Sanford and Chapel Hill earlier this month.

Fracturing involves injecting a drilled well with water, chemicals and sand to crack shale rock and free trapped gas. 

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources set a deadline for Monday to receive public comments on a draft report released last month that outlined the need for regulations before hydraulic fracturing could occur in North Carolina. Once rules were in place, drilling wouldn't pose major risks, the report said.

Opponents of the process say it would damage water resources and contaminate the environment, while supporters say it would provide an economic boon to central North Carolina.


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