Fracking checks from "On the Record"

Both Walter Dalton and Pat McCrory talked about energy exploration during their turns On the Record.

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Mark Binker
RALEIGH, N.C. — The problems with fact checks, especially of a couple half hour programs, is they can go on for a while. 

We took a look at statements made by Pat McCrory, a Republican and former Charlotte Mayor, and Walter Dalton, a Democrat and the current lieutenant governor, when they appears "On the Record" with David Crabtree.

What follow are the leftovers. They focus on fracking and my colleague Laura Leslie already has done a segment on the differences between the two men on energy issues. But in the spirit of not wasting copy, here's what I left on the cutting room floor.

Fracking Studies


As we have detailed in a television story, McCrory and Dalton have quite different views on natural gas exploration. Dalton says he doesn't believe on-shore natural gas production will be profitable in North Carolina and has concerns about whether hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can be done safely. McCrory sees natural gas production as a way to bolster the state's economy and reap tax revenue.

During their turns On the Record, both men pointed to studies that back their positions.

Referring to a study by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, McCrory said, “Our own report has said it can be done safely in North Carolina.”

The study in question did not exactly dismiss the potential environmental impacts. It said questions about how to protect water supply, water quality, air quality and how to deal with waste water would have to be addressed before fracking proceeds.

"The fact that oil and gas production activities are exempt from a number of federal environmental statutes that otherwise apply to industrial activities places a special burden on oil and gas‐producing states to create adequate state regulatory programs," the report notes.

The report says fracking could be done in North Carolina, but made a list of 27 policy recommendations to the General Assembly, not all of which have been followed at this point.

While the report is not an unqualified endorsement of the process, it does give McCrory a rational basis to make this claim.

It is worth noting that environmental groups have been critical of the DENR report, saying that it does not fully take into account all the risks at hand.


Dalton pointed to other information that he says shows, "If you frack all you possibly can frack in North Carolina, it would produce six days of national supply....That tells me fracking will never be done in a commercial sense in North Carolina."

This harkens back to a report by the U.S. Geological survey that estimated the amount of natural gas in North Carolina's shale basin. Early estimates were very optimistic. The USGS report tempered those expectations.

Whether the fact that North Carolina has limited supply means companies wouldn't try to produce gas here is an open question. Environmental groups point out that the price of natural gas is very low right now, meaning the economic incentive to come here is depressed.

For his part, McCrory says the state should open the way to fracking and let the business community decide whether it is worthwhile.

"I want the private sector to determine if there's gas here," McCrory said.

Fracking Position

McCrory has assailed Dalton's position on fracking. He says the lieutenant governor has helped close North Carolina to gas exploration.

“The first thing we need to do is increase revenue in the state of North Carolina, which impacts how much in taxes we charge," McCrory told Crabtree. "That’s why I’m really promoting energy exploration both off-shore and inland in North Carolina. And that is something that Mr. Dalton has now started he’s totally against.”

That is a charge that McCrory has repeated on the campaign trail.

Dalton's campaign says the Democrat favors an "all of the above" approach to natural gas drilling. Dalton himself told Crabtree, “I don’t oppose fracking if it makes sense and we can do it safely.”

And at the time of Perdue's veto, Dalton said that he disagreed with the governor's move. The Associated Press reported:

"Gubernatorial nominee Walter Dalton says he disagrees with fellow Democrat Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of a bill that would authorize a form of shale gas exploration in North Carolina called fracking.
"The lieutenant governor said Monday the legislation Perdue vetoed is not perfect but is a "proactive step" that contained environmental safeguards and would require the Legislature to vote again before fracking permits could be issued."

It is therefore inaccurate to say that Dalton is "totally against" energy exploration.


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