Raleigh, NC—Fulfilling a foregone conclusion, Gov. Pat McCrory lifted the state's fracking moratorium today, signing into law a contentious bill that will permit the controversial form of drilling as soon as May of 2015.
"There are more than 1,000 documented cases of contaminated water from fracking across the country," said Elizabeth Ouzts, state director of Environment North Carolina. "By rushing to frack, Gov. McCrory and legislative leaders are putting North Carolina's rivers and the drinking water for millions in jeopardy."
The new law allows still-incomplete fracking rules to become effective by default early next spring, and removes a provision that would require another "affirmative vote" of lawmakers before permits could be issued, breaking a promise made two years ago by the General Assembly.
A state commission dominated by oil and gas interests has drafted but not yet completed 120 rules to regulate drilling. Among their inadequacies, the proposed regulations don't address air pollution from fracking, and would allow toxic wastewater to be stored in pits, a waste disposal method that's proved hazardous for coal ash.
"There are no rules in place now to reduce fracking's harm to our environment," said Ouzts. "Rushing our state into dirty drilling is bad enough. Doing so without guarantee that fracking's risks will be mitigated is even worse. "
By most accounts, North Carolina's greatest potential in the energy sector is in renewable wind and solar, not finite oil and gas. Wind turbines spinning off the state's coast could meet all of the state's energy needs. North Carolina's solar energy industry is growing rapidly, but has barely scratched the surface of what's possible.
"The biggest disappointment here is that politicians are rushing our state into dirty drilling for little gain, and great risk to our water, when they could be boosting limitless, non-polluting energy sources like wind and solar," said Ouzts.
"The out-of-state oil and gas interests benefit the most when North Carolina is opened to fracking," she concluded. "Why cater to them at the expense of our environment, instead of boosting our state's homegrown, clean energy sources?"