by Billy Ball
As N.C. House of Representatives leaders prepare to debate the controversial Senate Bill 820, a GOP-backed measure that could open the state's borders to fracking in two years, environmental advocates are making the case for offshore wind as a cleaner alternative.
Leaders with Environment North Carolina say they will release their report (titled "Wind Mills, Not Spills—The environmental and economic benefits of offshore wind versus offshore drilling in North Carolina") Wednesday morning in the legislative building's press room in Raleigh.
The meeting will come hours after an 8:30 a.m. House environment committee session at the N.C. General Assembly, where Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, will present his frack-backing legislation. The measure has already earned the approval of the full Senate and is expected to garner similar support in the Republican-controlled House.
Leaders have touted the natural gas drilling as a safe means of accessing underground gas stores in central North Carolina. The gas cache will power an economic rebirth for the recession-minded state, supporters say, even after a report from the U.S. Geological Survey last week projected the state's core shale deposits would meet the state's energy needs for less than six years.
Critics like Environment North Carolina have also pointed to multiple reports of environmental damage caused by fracking spills and operations in other states. Meanwhile, group Director Elizabeth Ouzts argued last week that solar energy creates nine times as many jobs while producing the same amount of energy as coal and gas.
The organization will release the report at 11 a.m. Wednesday, with comments expected from leaders like N.C. Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, and Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, as well as officials from the National Wildlife Federation and the Southern Environmental Law Center.