Study: NC needs new regulations for 'fracking'

Posted February 28, 2012 3:19 p.m. EST

— North Carolina needs to develop formal standards and technical criteria as part of an oil and gas regulatory program, according to a nonprofit group that studied the state's readiness at the request of environmental officials.

State Review of Oil & Natural Gas Environmental Regulations Inc. compared the environmental regulatory programs of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources with national guidelines. The review found that programs haven't been developed in anticipation of regulating oil and gas exploration and production activities.

Specific standards are needed to ensure that state environmental staff, the industry and the public are aware of regulatory expectations and to focus permit review on the impacts of oil and gas development, the group said.

Lawmakers ordered DENR to study energy exploration in North Carolina, including the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," to release natural gas from underground deposits of shale in central North Carolina.

A draft report on DENR's findings is expected to be released next month.