As expected, Gov. Pat McCrory signed off on the Energy Modernization Act this morning, legislation that could open the state to issue fracking permits as soon as spring 2015.
“We remain intensely focused on creating good jobs, particularly in our rural areas," McCrory said in a statement. "We have watched and waited as other states moved forward with energy exploration, and it is finally our turn. This legislation will spur economic development at all levels of our economy, not just the energy sector."
Estimates of the drilling's impact on North Carolina's economy vary depending on who you ask, but the drilling has been linked to widespread reports of environmental contamination in states that already allow fracking.
McCrory signed the bill as the state Mining and Energy Commission continues its work to develop regulations for the industry.
Environmental advocates bemoaned the governor's approval Wednesday.
"The biggest disappointment here is that politicians are rushing our state into dirty drilling for little gain and great risk to our water, when they could be boosting limitless, non-polluting energy sources like wind and solar," said Elizabeth Ouzts, state director of Environment N.C., on Wednesday. "Why cater to them at the expense of our environment, instead of promoting our state's homegrown, clean energy sources?"