Governor Bev Perdue has issued an executive order creating a task force to develop regulation for the controversial natural gas drilling practice known as fracking.

A training center opens in Raleigh this afternoon to highlight the latest uses for propane. North Carolina is the second largest user of the fuel behind California. John Jessup is the executive director of the North Carolina Propane Gas Association. He says propane burns cleaner and is cheaper than gasoline and diesel. He also says the natural gas boom is behind the boost in the propane supply.

The Democratic frontrunners for Governor are working to distinguish themselves from one another before early voting begins later this week. Gurnal Scott looks at one issue where these men stood apart in last night's debate.

Hannah Shaw
Leoneda Inge

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources got an earful last night in Chapel Hill as the debate over natural gas exploration heats up.  Scientists and everyday citizens packed East Chapel Hill High School to have their say on DENR’s draft report on hydraulic fracturing, sometimes known as “fracking.”  That’s the controversial process used to extract natural gas from shale rock underground.  An overwhelming number of voices at the hearing were against fracking and the negative impact they worry it could have on the environment here.

Opponents and supporters of hydraulic fracturing made their cases at a public hearing in Sanford last night.

Ray Covington of the group North Carolina Oil and Gas said about 600 people turned out to comment on "fracking," the controversial process used to extract natural gas deposits from shale rock. He praised a recent report from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, finding that fracking can be done safely in the state with proper regulation.

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources is ready to present its draft report on hydraulic fracturing.   This is the controversial process used to extract natural gas from shale rock underground.

State Environmental officials say an independent study concludes North Carolina needs more regulations before some natural gas drilling can take place.

A legislative committee that's studying a method of natural gas drilling sometimes called fracking met in Raleigh today. Representatives of oil and gas interest groups as well as environmental non-profits spoke at the meeting. Ray Covington of Lee County is a co-founder of a company that has entered into mineral rights agreements with many landowners in the area.

The boom of shale gas extraction in the US and elsewhere has prompted Duke University to organize a two day conference on the topic. Organizers say the controversial process of gas extraction called fracking will be one of the main focuses of the gathering. Rob Jackson is a professor of environmental sciences at Duke and one of the event's organizers. He says his department is ready to monitor water supplies if fracking is allowed to take place in this state.

There have been significant improvements in air and water quality in the state over the last two decades, according to a new state report.