Photo: A drilling site in Rio Blanco and Garfield counties, CO.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service via Flickr

The commission that’s writing North Carolina’s rules on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, or fracking, is getting ready to present its recommendations to the General Assembly. The Mining and Energy Commission has been working since Sept. 2012, and today will debate the last eight rules it is preparing.

A few people like Sharon Garbutt have been following the Mining and Energy Commission. Garbutt has been volunteering to take children on field trips to the Haw River for 20 years. Most of the time, the kids love it.

A map of Triassic basins in NC.

Energy speculators snapped up natural gas drilling leases over Lee County's Triassic shale in a frenzy in 2009. But some energy speculators have begun relinquishing their claims.

In February, Denver-based WhitMar Exploration walked away from a leasing agreement for more than 2,700 acres. That's according to records at the Lee County Register of Deeds.

WhitMar declined to comment to WUNC, but told other media outlets that North Carolina is moving too slowly on hydraulic fracturing.

Photo: A farm in Lee County
Donald Lee Pardue via Flickr

North Carolina’s economy could gain more from off-shore gas and oil drilling than from drilling on land, and the financial cost of drilling on land could outweigh the benefit, according to a report state lawmakers received on Tuesday.

Off-shore drilling could represent $1.9 billion in economic activity in the state per year for 30 years, according to a report from N.C. State University, which looked at economic benefits like jobs created and drawbacks like environmental risks.  

Photo: A rig and gas well operation on the Marcellus Shale in Scott Township, Pennsylvania.
WCN247 via Flickr

North Carolina lawmakers are beginning to look at how they would tax the shale gas drilling companies for extracting gas from the ground in the state.

Members of the legislative commission that handles laws on energy heard Tuesday afternoon about how states that allow fracking charge companies for removing gas from the ground.

Thousands marched to the North Carolina State Capitol building on Saturday.
James Willamor via Flickr

Organizers of Saturday’s moral march on Raleigh plan to use the event’s momentum to mobilize voters, they say. The event follows last year’s weekly Moral Monday rallies that criticized laws passed by North Carolina’s Republican-led government.  The new focus is on the fall elections.

Photo: A rig and gas well operation on the Marcellus Shale in Scott Township, Pennsylvania.
WCN247 via Flickr

The head of the commission appointed to write North Carolina’s rules for hydraulic fracturing for natural gas asked lawmakers Tuesday to halve the area for which drilling companies would be responsible in case of water contamination.

James Womack, chairman of the state’s Energy and Mining Commission, asked that drilling companies be held liable for contamination up to 2,500 feet from excavation sites. Under Senate Law 143, which was signed in 2012, mining companies are liable up to 5,000 ft.

Gov. Pat McCrory
Governor's Office

Governor Pat McCrory held a press conference Tuesday to lay out his administration’s priorities in his second year in office. He said he plans to increase teacher pay, though he didn’t say by how much. The governor also said his administration plans to submit recommendations for Medicaid reform to legislators in March. And McCrory emphasized in order to boost the state’s economy over the long term, he’d like to encourage more energy exploration.  

Fracking the Marcellus Shale: a rig and gas well operation.
wcn 247 / Flickr

The panel that is writing the rules that may become North Carolina’s fracking laws will not require drilling companies to disclose which chemicals they use to extract gas.

Members of the Energy and Mining Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the rule, which stumped them for more than a year and drew  input from environmental and business groups.

Photo: A farm in Lee County
Donald Lee Pardue via Flickr

An energy company that’s exploring the potential for natural gas drilling in North Carolina is scaling back research efforts in Lee County. 

Worker oversees the process of mixing water with fracking fluids to be injected into the ground.
Joshua Doubek, via Wikipedia


  Experts have been looking at the piedmont and coastal plain as a potential fracking zone.