Local News

Hundreds meet to discuss proposed fracking rules

Posted August 22, 2014 11:16 p.m. EDT
Updated August 23, 2014 8:07 a.m. EDT

— Officials from the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission were hearing from the public Friday night on proposed rules for the oil and gas drilling method known as fracking. 

The second of four public meetings on the issue began at 5 p.m. at the Dennis Wicker Center in Sanford, where 86 people shared their thoughts on both sides of the issue. 

Critics of fracking raised concerns about the rules. 

"The rules are not written with people's interest in mind and the government in North Carolina is not protecting its people," said Debra Champion who opposes fracking.

Commission Chairman Jim Womack, who also is a Lee County commissioner, said Friday morning that the meeting would be canceled if a security plan wasn't in place to keep the peace between drilling supporters and opponents. A spokesman for the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources said early Friday afternoon that a plan was set.

In June, Gov. Pat McCrory signed a law clearing the way for permits to be issued for hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – as soon as next spring. The drilling method involves injecting mixtures of water, sand gravel or other chemicals to break apart underground rocks to allow oil and gas to escape.

The law, which lifts a 2012 moratorium that blocked fracking permits, has been criticized by environmental groups.

McCrory said in June that the law will re-energize rural areas and create high-tech jobs.

Critics have said the drilling process could damage nearby water supplies and will force some people to allow drilling on their property without their permission.

City officials from across North Carolina have expressed concern that the measure prohibits them from setting up local zoning requirements for any drilling operations.

Scientists believe Lee County is a prime locale for natural gas because of the abundance of shale in the region.