by Billy Ball
Not surprisingly, the N.C. General Assembly moved Thursday to approve fast-track fracking legislation, allowing the N.C. Department of Environmental and Natural Resources to issue permits for the controversial drilling practice as soon as next spring.
And, not surprisingly, environmental advocacy groups are panning the legislation and calling for Gov. Pat McCrory to veto the bill. It would be surprising for McCrory, a drilling supporter, to do that.
"Fracking has contaminated water across the country," said Elizabeth Ouzts, state director of Environment North Carolina, in a statement. "And now, sadly, lawmakers have voted to put North Carolina's rivers and the drinking water for millions at risk."
Meanwhile, the N.C. Sierra Club said the legislation breaks lawmakers' promise not to lift the state's fracking moratorium until regualtory rules are in place.
"The people of North Carolina deserve that a process as risky as fracking be considered by a vote of the legislature after the rules are in place," said Dustin Chicurel-Bayard, spokesman for the Sierra Club. "The House, under the leadership of Speaker (Thom) Tillis, just broke their promise to North Carolinians.
Proponents say the drilling will bring jobs and energy to the state. Opponents say the jobs aren't worth the risk, pointing out numerous reports of environmental contamination linked to fracking in other states.