Raleigh, NC- On the first day that fracking permits can be issued, a report released today documented more than one thousand environmental violations by the fracking industry in Pennsylvania. The report, titled “Fracking Failures,” analyzed permit violations over the last three years. Joining Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center at the release were several concerned legislators, including legislators from the areas at the center of the fracking debate.
“Every Pennsylvania drilling company had violations from 2011 to 2014, and the top 5 had more than 900 violations combined,” said Liz Kazal, field associate with Environment North Carolina. “Even with regulations in place, there’s no guarantee that companies will play by the rules.“
The state has spent nearly three years drafting regulations for fracking. Last summer, hundreds of people spoke out at hearings held across the state, highlighting potential weaknesses in the current rule set.
"North Carolina is ill equipped to adequately oversee fracking,” said Representative Pricey Harrison of Guilford County. “The Legislature promised citizens we would have the strongest rules in the country overseeing fracking operations and that promise continues to be broken, even as recently as last week, when a mandate for the development of rules to protect air quality was repealed. This report shows the problems that come with fracking operations. North Carolina can and should do better."
Other lawmakers, who represent areas where drilling is most likely to occur if allowed in the state, also voiced their concerns for the drilling practice and the process to bring it to the state.
“We believe that the rules proposed by the Mining and Energy Commission are lacking safeguards to protect North Carolina’s people and their property,” said Representative Robert Reives of Lee and Harnett Counties. “The rules as currently written do not go far enough. They do not adequately give local control to county and municipal governments, do not address forced pooling and fall short of protections to ensure the integrity of our drinking water.”
“As fracking legislation was rushed through the last two legislative sessions, North Carolinians were promised the most stringent rules in the country,” said Senator Mike Woodard, who represents portions of Durham, Caswell, and Person Counties. “Now that the Mining and Energy Commission has released these rules, we see that this promise was broken. North Carolina should reinstate the moratorium on fracking until tougher rules are permanently in place.”
Houston-based Cabot Oil committed the most total violations with 265, more than one for every two wells it operated in the state. Pittsburgh-based Atlas was guilty of the most breaches for every well drilled, while Dallas-based Mieka was responsible for the most violations per well operated.
Four firms -- EQT, Chevron Appalachia, Consol and Shell -- who told the public they would adhere to higher standards when they formed the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, were also among the worst offenders. They racked up at least 100 infractions even after they pledged to do better in 2013.
“We’re not talking about misfiled papers,” said Kazal. “We’re talking about serious risks for workers, drinking water, and public health. This report shows what North Carolina can expect if we allow fracking to begin. The only way to ensure our health and environment are protected is to keep fracking out of the state entirely.”
Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center is a state-based, citizen-funded, environmental advocacy organization working towards a cleaner, greener, healthier future.