State News

Security plan set, Sanford drilling hearing to go on as planned

Posted August 22, 2014 6:06 a.m. EDT
Updated August 22, 2014 7:45 p.m. EDT

— A public hearing on proposed gas drilling regulations will be held as planned Friday evening in Sanford after concerns about security were addressed, officials said.

The 5 p.m. meeting is the second of four public hearings by the state Mining and Energy Commission to collect comments on rules the panel has adopted for drilling, including the controversial hydraulic fracturing process. Nearly 400 people attended a hearing in Raleigh on Wednesday, many to speak in opposition to drilling.

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.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed a law this summer clearing the way for permits to be issued as early as next spring for the drilling method, known as "fracking," that involves injecting a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals to break apart underground shale so oil and gas can escape.

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