State News

Hundreds turn out to make comments on fracking

Posted August 20, 2014 4:06 a.m. EDT
Updated August 20, 2014 7:23 p.m. EDT

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

The first of four public meetings on the issue began at 10 a.m. at North Carolina State University, and within minutes, strong comments on both sides of the issue drew applause and boos from the hundreds in attendance.

Critics of fracking raised concerns about waste water disposal, setback rules, the methods to protect clean water in the state and disclosure rules for fracking companies.

"This is more than ludicrous, it's criminal," Vicki Ryder, a member of the anti-fracking group Raging Grannies, said of the rules. "As a grandmother concerned for the health and well being of all the earth's children, I say these setback rules, they make no sense, unless they're thousands of miles more."

Algernon Cash, with the N.C. Energy Forum, said the draft rules being discussed Wednesday already protect the state's water supply.

"North Carolina can expand energy development in a way that protects and preserves our communities," Cash said.

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.