Two North Carolina legislative committees recommended on Tuesday that the state begin issuing permits in July next year for mining companies to extract natural gas in the state using a controversial drilling method known as fracking.
State lawmakers looked at different types of fracking legislation in 2012 and 2013. On Tuesday, the senate’s commerce and finance committees sent the bill to the senate floor for a vote. Sen. Buck Newton (R-Wilson) is one of the sponsors.
“We can keep talking it to death,” Newton said. “But in my opinion, it's time to fish or cut bait, and it's time to move forward.”
But observers say the state hasn’t looked closely enough at how to regulate this kind of industry. Elizabeth Ouzts, of Environment North Carolina, says water from fracking is a major contamination risk.
“And then there are many, many unanswered questions about property rights, about air polution, and about even forcing people to allow fracking on their own private property, even if they don't want it," Ouzts said.
The bill would make it a crime for the state to publicly identify some of the chemicals drilling companies mix with water and sand to extract gas through fracking. It also would bar local governments from prohibiting fracking.