Photo by Wesley Beeson, The Sanford Herald
Protesters at a 2012 fracking public hearing in Lee County.
This was expected, but, somehow, it still seems stunning.
On Monday night, county commissioners in Lee County— likely North Carolina's prime hotbed for natural gas drilling, according to geologists—approved a sweeping, two-year moratorium on fracking within the county
. The vote, which was backed by five of seven county commissioners, comes just a handful of years after residents in the economically troubled industrial county seemed overwhelmingly in support of drilling.
What a difference a few years and a tidal wave of bad publicity can make. Environmental groups, predictably, hailed the news Monday.
The two-year ban may someday prompt a lawsuit. For the moment, though, supporters of the temporary moratorium note state law forbids outright bans, but says nothing of temporary stoppages. Leaders in Chatham, Rockingham, Stokes and Anson counties have all approved temporary moratoriums.
In September, Chatham Board of Commissioners Chairman Jim Crawford set the tone by arguing that counties are within their rights to temporarily ban drilling
. "We have to demonstrate to a judge that we're not just singling drilling out unfairly," Crawford told the Indy