Re: Fracking

In reference to the article “The environment could take a beating” [Jan. 16], I would like to make a slight correction about the fracking process being legal in North Carolina, as well as express shared fear that I have with environmental groups and residents of the state.

While the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law lifting restrictions concerning horizontal drilling and toxic chemical injection into the ground, they did place a temporary moratorium on fracking permits. This leaves the aforementioned Mining and Energy Commission with two years to come up with proper regulations for drilling and enforcement of such regulations.

As mentioned in the article, this commission is packed with oil and gas interests. In fact, the seat designated for a “member of a nongovernmental conservation interest” (Ray Covington) owns a company named North Carolina Oil and Gas! It leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth knowing that the fate of the clean water of this state lies in the hands of a biased commission.

It’s time for North Carolinians to take a stand for clean water and protect our lakes, rivers and drinking water. I urge everyone concerned about this issue to contact Gov. McCrory and state legislators and ask them to keep the moratorium in place permanently.

Molly McKinley, Raleigh

Re: Fracking

I recently attended the Compulsory Pooling Study Group of the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) in Sanford.

As I expected, this meeting, open to the public, was highly charged with people wanting to have answers as to what will happen to their farms and land, and their way of life, if and when fracking comes to Carolina, and especially how they will be affected by forced pooling should their neighbors sign leases to the gas companies and they don’t wish to participate.

For the most part, this study group had more questions than answers. You see, they are working with 1940s mining and drilling laws and rules, and they admit there are “gaps” that must be resolved in order to protect the property owners in the targeted frack zones.

My understanding is that the state has the sole right to declare eminent domain, as the laws are written to date; that is, the state can take your property if it determines this is for the good of the majority. In other states, the state has given that right to neighbors who wish to drill horizontally and has sold mineral rights to the gas company. You can be drawn into their pool without much compensation. Other states have given over eminent domain to the drilling operators. You may be drawn in against your will. As the MEC writes recommendations for fracking, they could recommend that eminent domain be given over to the MEC. In all these scenarios, you lose control of your property.

It is hubris to think that legislation and regulation will protect the environment and its inhabitants from disturbed geological formations with drilling and pressurized injections of water and chemicals. Fracking under any circumstance is death by legal injection.

Nick Davis, Pittsboro

Re: Walmart

As I drive home past the emerging Walmart store on 15-501, I think of sports stadiums and The New York Times.

The venerable paper had an article on Dec. 18 about Walmart’s bribery scandal south of the border in Mexico. Walmart has been accused and proven guilty of, well, let them tell it: “Walmart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited.” They wanted to build a store near ancient pyramids the town wanted protected. But $52,000 in bribes later, Walmart got their store.

What, you might ask, does that have to do with sports stadiums? I’m always amazed how we towns and cities roll over for a small group of rich guys getting richer with the promise of a few jobs, because that’s what it is. A small amount of mostly part-time, low-paying, low-benefits jobs that will not be putting any kids through collegeyet we fall all over ourselves to accommodate these huge buildings and rich guys getting richer.

I know it’s inevitable these buildings come. I say we apply our smart growth know-how and ask for more first. I say [let’s put] a mural on the side of that cinderblock wall to at least simulate something aesthetically attractive as we level and excoriate the land yet another time.

We don’t have any pyramids to protect here, but we do have a native history going back thousands of years, and that spirit is asking for some recognition. Maybe it’s too late here in America, but smart growth seems possible if we are just willing to have some vision and some spine when negotiating. I believe we could get more from these corporations because, in the end, they need us more than we need them.

James Cioe, Chapel Hill