Natural Gas

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.

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 are a lot of legal questions surrounding the potential for shale gas drilling and exploration in North Carolina.  A workshop is set for tomorrow to help bring lawyers up to speed.

The half-day workshop is to give North Carolina attorneys an introduction to natural gas drilling, mineral rights and leasing land to conduct drilling.  Ted Feitshans is an extension associate professor at N-C State and will help conduct the workshop.  He says property owners need help before negotiating with natural gas companies.

Scientists from Duke University and the U-S Geological Survey will soon be collecting water samples in communities where there is the potential for shale gas exploration.  

Scientists will be collecting baseline data in Lee and Chatham counties.  The samples will come from private and public water supply wells.  Holly Weyers is director of the U-S Geological Survey North Carolina Water Science Center.  She says it’s important to get ground-water quality data before any drilling.

Piedmont-based PSNC Energy will begin selling compressed natural gas at two locations in Raleigh with plans for a third in Gastonia. State regulators approved the $1.70-per-gallon price tag. That's about half the cost of gasoline. But you'd have to have a vehicle that uses CNG or to have converted your vehicle to be able to use it. PSNC spokeswoman Angie Townsend says they've had a handful of CNG customers since the early 90's but interest is growing.

A state panel is close to finishing a report for the governor on whether oil and natural gas drilling should be permitted off the North Carolina coast. The governor established the Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy nearly two years ago. Attorney Willis Whichard chairs the panel.

Willis Whichard: "The idea is not for us to solve the policy or political problems regarding these difficult and contentious issues, but to give her and other policymakers the information they need to process and come to decisions."

Geologists say North Carolina's natural gas reserves in one Piedmont sub-basin could power the state for 40 years. The North Carolina Geological Survey completed research last week that suggests a basin underneath Lee, Chatham and Moore Counties is rich in natural gas deposits. State Geological Survey chief Kenneth Taylor says North Carolina sent samples to federal geologists to confirm the findings.

Progress Energy will shut down a coal-fired plant near Lumberton six years ahead of schedule.

Progress Energy spokesman Drew Elliot says the plant has provided more than a half century of reliable service:

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