It seems so long ago, 2012, the year fracking became legal in North Carolina. With additional permitting and environmental rules still to put in place, there was a (small) hope that someone would come to his or her senses and call the whole thing off.
But no, here we are in 2015, and all the “rules” are in place to allow fracking to begin today. Those rules, which state officials promised three years ago would be the most stringent in the U.S., have since been weakened. Last night, the Senate passed House Bill 157, a stewpot of environmental rule changes. Among them,removing the requirement for the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) to create rules to limit toxic air emissions from fracking operations.
Nor is there clarity on how to dispose of the millions of gallons of contaminated wastewater left over from fracking operations. As studies have indicated, municipal wastewater systems are not equipped to deal with naturally occurring radioactive materials in these fluids. Nor have there been discussions of the possibility of earthquakes resulting from hydraulic drilling operations. Areas of Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas, where earthquakes had been rare, now experience them with some regularity—and they are much stronger.
The vote was 39–10. Six Democrats joined 33 Republicans in approving the bill.
From the Triangle, Sens. Dan Blue of Wake, Valerie Foushee of Orange/Chatham, and Floyd McKissick Jr. and Mike Woodard, both of Durham, noted no.