Raleigh, NC—Following a contentious debate, house lawmakers approved a sweeping measure that paves the way for a controversial method of gas drilling called “fracking” as soon as 2014. Because the measure did not garner enough votes to override a veto, attention turns now to Governor Bev Perdue.
“We’re disappointed that a majority of house lawmakers approved the rush to frack,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, State Director of Environment North Carolina. “But we applaud all those who stood up for our waters, our air, and our rural landscapes today.”
Fracking, short for “hydraulic fracturing,” is the process by which water, sand, and toxic chemicals are injected into wells at high pressure in order to extract shale gas.
State laws currently prohibit two key aspects of the technology: horizontal drilling and injecting chemicals into the ground. Senate Bill 820 lifts those prohibitions and tasks a new commission with developing rules that could allow the practice as soon as 2014.
A 484-page analysis from the state’s environmental agency documents the extent to which fracking has contaminated water supplies and waterways around the country, and calls for seven additional studies, none of which are addressed in the measure approved by the House.
Senate lawmakers are expected to concur with the house version. Clean water advocates are calling on Gov. Bev Perdue to reject the measure, which they contend runs counter to the governor’s recent executive order.
“Last month, Gov. Bev Perdue called for a careful and responsible approach to fracking,” said Ouzts. “This bill represents the opposite track—rushing the state into this dangerous new method of drilling and asking the questions later.”