Despite the dangers of fracking, North Carolina lawmakers want to legalize it | News Feature | Indy Week

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Despite the dangers of fracking, North Carolina lawmakers want to legalize it



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Drill your legislators on fracking

Fracking is currently outlawed in North Carolina, but three bills that are moving through the Legislature are the first steps in legalizing the drilling method.

Ask your lawmakers about their opinions on fracking and let them know your thoughts. Their email addresses are "first name.last name (at)". For example,

House Bill 242

  • Read the bill

  • Directs the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to study the environmental, economic, social and infrastructure impacts of fracking. The study must be completed by Sept. 1; findings would be presented to the Environmental Review Commission.

  • Calls for public hearings at two to-be-determined locations in the Triassic Basin, an area that extends from southern Granville County southwest through Durham and parts of Wake, Chatham, Lee and Moore counties.

  • Require a drilling operator to post a minimum of a $5,000 bond, plus a $1,500 fee per well before drilling begins and an additional $450 when the well is plugged and abandoned.

  • Primary sponsors: Mitch Gillespie, R-Burke and McDowell; Mike Stone, R-Lee and Harnett

  • Status: Referred to House Finance Committee. Local lawmakers on this committee: Durham: Democrats Paul Luebke and Larry Hall; Orange/ Chatham/ Moore: Democrat Joe Hackney; Wake: Democrats Deborah Ross and Jennifer Weiss and Republican Paul Stam

Senate Bill 615

  • Read the bill

  • Similar to the House bill but less comprehensive.

  • Primary sponsors: Bob Atwater, D-Chatham, Durham and Lee; Harris Blake, R-Harnett and Moore

  • Status: Referred to Senate Finance Committee. Local lawmakers on this committee: Durham: Bob Atwater and Floyd McKissick Jr., both Democrats; Orange: Democrat Ellie Kinnaird; Wake: Democrat Josh Stein and Republicans Neal Hunt and Richard Stevens

Senate Bill 709

  • Read the bill

  • This 13-page energy bill deals with fracking and mandates other major changes to the state's energy policy.

  • Renames the Energy Policy Council as the Energy Jobs Council and reconfigures its membership to include nearly all utilities and oil and gas industry representatives.

  • Directs the governor to vigorously pursue off-shore drilling by forming compacts with neighboring states and petitioning the federal government to open areas of the Atlantic Ocean, including North Carolina's offshore waters, to oil and gas exploration and drilling.

  • Directs DENR to review existing state laws regarding fracking, analyze other states' fracking regulations, recommend amendments to North Carolina laws that could allow fracking, study its environmental impacts and develop proposed regulatory framework for the practice.

  • Primary sponsors: Republicans Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg; Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, representing Onslow and Jones; Tommy Tucker, representing Mecklenburg and Union counties

  • Status: Passed the Senate; now goes to the House. See "Drill bill: SB 709 passes, focuses on oil and gas."

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