Facing South

North Carolina holds extra public hearing on fracking

Following two public hearings on fracking that drew large crowds, North Carolina has decided to offer another opportunity for the people to be heard on the contentious issue.

A third and final hearing will be held today in Pittsboro, N.C., the seat of Chatham County, which sits top a significant shale gas formation. It will take place from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in The Barn at Fearrington Village, 100 Village Way. The forum was announced last week by Democratic state Rep. Joe Hackney of Chapel Hill.

There were large turnouts for two earlier hearings held in Sanford and Chapel Hill. The state initially planned to hold only two hearings.

Following the March 27 hearing in Chapel Hill, which saw a large turnout of fracking opponents, two state House Republicans bucked their party's aggressive pro-fracking stance to call for a delay in any effort to legalize the practice. Rep. Mitch Gillespie of Burke and McDowell counties and Rep. Michael Stone of Harnett and Lee counties, which are within the proposed fracking zone, called on the state to take several years to consider the matter carefully.

Today is also the deadline for the public to submit comments on a draft report released last month by the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. That report controversially concluded that fracking can be done safely in the state if lawmakers adopt the appropriate regulations. For details on submitting comments, click here.

Fracking or hydraulic fracturing involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into a well at high pressure in order to free trapped gas. The practice has been linked to health-damaging water contamination and air pollution.

Facing South
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It seems there is a concerted effort by industry to push this through the legislature without due discussion. I am not against fracking per se, but the aggressive push to permit the process without putting relevant safety and environmental regulations and guidelines in place hints at speculation. We need to talk it over more, if only to calm both sides in the debate and listen carefully to each.

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