McCrory signs fracking law
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signs into law a measure that fast-tracks fracking in the state. Rep. Hager is fourth from the right. (Photo from the governor's Facebook page.)

NC passes fracking law, seeks taxpayer subsidies for industry

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signs into law a measure that fast-tracks fracking in the state. Rep. Hager is fourth from the right. (Photo from the governor's Facebook page.)
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This week North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed into law a bill that opens up the state to fracking for natural gas. The Energy Modernization Act will allow drilling permits to be issued 61 days after the state Mining and Energy Commission approves final rules for the industry, which is expected to happen by next summer.

The new law breaks a pledge from legislators that they would review and approve the rules before the state's drilling moratorium could be lifted. Environmental advocates also criticize the law for failing to adequately address the risks associated with fracking and for weakening safeguards. Supporters claim it will boost North Carolina's economy.

"We have watched and waited as other states moved forward with energy exploration, and it is finally our turn," McCrory said in his announcement of the law's signing at North Carolina State University. "This legislation will spur economic development at all levels of our economy, not just the energy sector."

Standing by McCrory's side as he signed the bill were legislative leaders who played key roles in the push for drilling, including Rep. Mike Hager, a Rutherford County Republican and former Duke Energy engineer. Besides leading the legislative drive to allow fracking in North Carolina, Hager has also led an effort -- unsuccessful so far -- to kill the state's renewable energy standard, calling it a form of "corporate welfare" and an "entitlement program."

But it turns out that North Carolina's Republican leaders are now seeking taxpayer-financed "corporate welfare" for the oil and gas industry -- even though the five biggest drilling companies alone hauled in $93 billion in profits last year. As The News & Observer of Raleigh reports:

* The state Senate's proposed budget includes nearly $1.2 million to help the energy sector with drilling, analysis and marketing.

* McCrory's proposed budget includes $500,000 for drilling up to three test wells in Lee County, part of the state targeted for fracking.

* A separate $550,000 initiative was approved last year to help the energy industry assess fracking prospects.

The new fracking law also calls on the state to conduct taxpayer-financed studies on locating a liquid natural gas export terminal on the North Carolina coast, establishing a curriculum to train drilling industry workers at Central Carolina Community College, and developing infrastructure to facilitate oil and gas development such as pipelines, compressor stations, and gas processing systems. In addition, it prohibits local governments from imposing taxes on gas produced in their jurisdictions.

Joining the oil and gas subsidy game

North Carolina's plans to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize the oil and gas industry fall in line with historical efforts to spend public dollars to support politically powerful dirty-energy interests.

Oil Change International, a group that advocates for ending fossil fuel subsidies, estimates that the U.S. provides anywhere from $14 billion to $52 billion in annual support for oil, gas and coal companies. Over the past century, the federal government has pumped more than $470 billion into the oil and gas industry alone in the form of tax breaks.

Oil and gas companies also enjoy substantial subsidies at the state level, though they go largely untracked. A 2012 Earth Track report that looked at fossil fuel subsidies in five states including Louisiana, a center of both onshore fracking and offshore drilling, found that revenue losses from Louisiana's tax exemptions for the industry were $7 billion in fiscal year 2010. And severance tax losses, mostly from oil and gas, cost Louisiana $354 million. Severance taxes are imposed on the removal of nonrenewable resources.

Fracking has also received significant taxpayer support. Over the past three decades, the federal government has spent more than $100 million on research to develop the technique, which involves injecting large quantities of water along with sand and toxic chemicals underground to break shale rock formations and release natural gas.

This appears to be the direction in which North Carolina's current political leadership is headed: spending public dollars on a highly profitable industry that imposes significant social costs, including health-damaging water and air pollution. Fracking also releases significant amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate disruption -- a serious concern for a coastal state like North Carolina that's vulnerable to sea-level rise and intensifying tropical storms.

"The state has already spent significant resources in pursuit of fracking, with no new jobs to show for it (beyond the state government staff hired to write the new rules)," NC Conservation Network Policy Director Grady McCallie wrote in his analysis of the new law. "If the legislature had spent a fraction of these resources on renewable energy and efficiency, we would already be seeing the payoff in jobs and income for North Carolinians."

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Fracking for bucks

All this fracking is for pure profit....They don't care about you or your drinking water...They have paid for their politicians and they all got elected now its payback time...I don't remember all these GOPers politicking saying they was going to surrender our property rights and sell out to big oil no sir if they had said we are going to make it so you cant say no then I doubt they would have got elected.......There will be no big paying jobs and most will probably use Mexican labor because they will not ask questions about the poisons they will be breathing and handling..

Fracking for Idiots

All this fracking is for pure profit....They don't care about you or your drinking water...They have paid for their politicians and they all got elected now its payback time...I don't remember all these GOPers politicking saying they was going to surrender our property rights and sell out to big oil no sir if they had said we are going to make it so you cant say no then I doubt they would have got elected.......There will be no big paying jobs and most will probably use Mexican labor because they will not ask questions about the poisons they will be breathing and handling..I have watched lots of home videos of people in other states who have had their whole lives ruined by these greedy bastards....all this destruction so they can export all our resources to other countries and leave us the mess.
Senator Burr and Roger West and all the other idiots are supposed to represent us...Apparently that is not so..I think they like the campaign money they receive...Come election time say goodby its time to retire these evil POSs...Also keep an eye on your electric bills...Duke has paid to play so now we pay....

Fracking and Rep. Michelle Presnell

Here is a letter I wrote to Rep. Michelle Presnell:

Dear Ms. Presnell,

How much is our state, North Carolina, giving away (in tax breaks and other incentives) to the exceedingly wealthy oil/shale industry in exchange for your advocacy? How much has the John Locke Foundation given to your campaign?** How much has Art Pope, the Koch brothers, the Cato institute and other far-right organizations given to your campaign? It seems as though you are more influenced by these partisan groups than the welfare of the people of North Carolina.

If fracking liquid is so safe, why are its ingredients proprietary? What do they have to hide? Why can't even emergency personnel know the ingredients if they are called to an accident involving these chemicals?

Maybe you feel confident that the fracking liquid is too far away from sources of our drinking water to do any harm, but I don't. Haven't we polluted the earth enough already in the name of massive profits for large and mostly untouchable corporations? How about people in fracking zones being able to light their water on fire at the kitchen faucet. See: www.propublica.org/.../scientific-study-links-flammable-drinking-water-to-...

There IS a correlation between increased seismic activity and fracking. You admit as much in your article from the John Locke Foundation. Only they minimize the issue by calling them "tiny." Personally, I doubt even the JLF is powerful enough to control where and how many rocks "shift" during this unnatural process.

Let me ask you this: would you live over the top of a fracking operation if you had small children and depended on a well or spring for drinking water? Would you believe, swearing on the life of your children, that the water was safe and there was no chance your house could blow up someday killing your family and destroying all you had worked for your entire life?? How about doing your job by representing the people of your state instead of paving the way for rich companies to decimate and pollute our land?

** "In a 2010 investigation by the Institute for Southern Studies, the John Locke Foundation was found to be one of the most outspoken climate skeptics in North Carolina, working in concert with other groups funded by the Koch Brothers and Art Pope to creation the illusion of disagreement about the fundamentals of climate science. Examples cited by the Institute include:[30] In 2005, shortly after legislation addressing climate change was first introduced at the General Assembly, the foundation released a public policy statement titled "Global Warming Policy: NC Should Do Nothing," which claimed that climate science remains "unsettled." That same year, the Locke Foundation distributed to all members of the state legislature the Michael Crichton novel "State of Fear," a work of fiction that promoted the views of Dr. Fred Singer, a prominent climate skeptic. Singer has held positions with the Cato Institute, which was co-founded in 1977 by Charles Koch and funded by the Kochs, and with other Koch-financed groups including the American Council on Science and Health, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Frontiers of Freedom, Heritage Foundation, Institute for Humane Studies, and the National Center for Policy Analysis.

In 2007, as North Carolina began working on ways to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions, it turned for technical assistance to the Center for Climate Strategies, a nonprofit group of scientists, engineers, business strategists and policy experts that has worked with governments in the U.S., Mexico and Canada on tackling climate change issues. In response, the Locke Foundation launched a series of attacks on the Center, charging that it was founded by an "environmental advocacy group known to take alarmist positions on global warming" -- when in fact it was founded by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, a business-friendly group whose directors have included representatives of Reliant Energy, Dow, and the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Locke has also teamed up with the Heartland Institute -- a climate-skeptic group that's been financed by the Kochs -- to hold a conference call during which Locke's research director accused the Center of peddling false assumptions like the idea that "carbon dioxide emission reduction is the solution to global warming." Also in 2007, the Locke Foundation released a policy report titled "A North Carolina Citizen's Guide to Global Warming," assuring readers that the "alarming view" of global warming does not represent the scientific consensus. It went on to assert that "[m]ost of the greenhouse effect is natural and is due to water vapor naturally in the atmosphere, as well as natural levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and a few other greenhouse gases." The report was written by Joel Schwartz, who at the time was a visiting scholar at the Koch-funded American Enterprise Institute.

** In addition, Locke has questioned mainstream climate science through a series in the Carolina Journal, the foundation's monthly newspaper, and opinion pieces published by its staff in other outlets, like the 2006 American Spectator article in which Locke editor Paul Chesser accused Christian climate activists of "Biblical illiteracy" and warned that "God has some serious global warming of His own planned." It's also spread its message of doubt through speaking engagements by climate science skeptic Pat Michaels, a climatologist who left the University of Virginia under a cloud of controversy over his industry funding and contrarian views to become a fellow at the Koch-founded and funded Cato Institute, as well as through its Carolina Journal radio show, which has discussed topics like "the biases that help convince global warming alarmists that their cause deserves so much attention.""

(www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/John_Locke_Foundation)

fracking

Frack the politicians that signed the bill. The fracking needs to be done on the signers properties since they want it. North Carolians need to riot at locations of drilling. Does memories of earlier deterioration of wells up north escape the minds of politicians?

Fracking Sad

North Carolina is such a pretty state. I won't be visiting it much anymore. Between the insane gun laws being enacted all over the south and legislation like this, well lets just say I wouldn't feel safe in a state full of people who actually ELECTED a governor who would sign such an obviously horrible law. This is all about greed, but it's also about stupidity and willful ignorance. Pat McCrory isn't fit to be dog catcher.

Then again, "leaders" like Pat McCrory are becoming the norm in the USA.A sad comment on your state - and our country.It won't be long before some other corporation is selling you suckers water - not just to drink - but to shower in.

And some future governor will sign a law denying your right to know what's in THAT water too.

Idiots.

What a Shame

All that money could go towards solar farms. The the hell is wrong with you people. Stop this insanity before the entire world is uninhabitable.

He has the gall to do this

He has the gall to do this while he is still chest deep in coal ash....I smell Impeachment.

Subsidies for fracking in NC

So now the citizens of North Carolina are going pay up and subsidize the energy companies that want to come in to this state, pollute the ground water and make a profit by doing so and for hardly any energy or jobs to be gained?

"Frack" McCrory, Pope and the entire bought and paid for Tar Heel Teabilly Taliban legislature and senate in Raleigh.

We "can't afford" Medicaid for those in need which would be for next to nothing due to monies from the Fed., nor teacher pay and increases for the education of our children, nor a tax break for those that really need it as opposed to the McCrory/Pope "1% Buddy System" tax break on average of 45K to those over incomes of over 250K...?????

How's that big fat lie known as the "Carolina Comeback" budget deficit of $452 million "thingie" working out for you clowns in Raleigh?

I really wish we would

I really wish we would remember the rules of contraction. It should be spelled frac'ing as it is a contraction of fracturing. Fracking is a different word entirely.

Most journalists say "fracking" with a "k"...

...per the Associated Press Stylebook, which is the Bible on such things:

http://newsok.com/ap-rules-on-fracking/article/3836083

The Koch brothers bought the

The Koch brothers bought the NC state government- They and Haliburton will make a huge profits on their investment. Interesting that the Goob-anor and the rest of the baffoons in office can't find $ for teachers or won't provide health insurance to the folks who need it but can give away millions to corporations that already make billions in annual profits. Thanks Pat.

What the frack???!!!

Shame on the greed that will ruin North Carolina's clean green future. Was coal ash not dirty enough for you?

Subsidising environmental

Subsidising environmental catastrophe seems incredibly stupid. But these dolts probably won't be around to suffer the consequences that will haunt NC in perpetuity. And they obviously don't care about those that will suffer. Sure signs of psychopathy!

Subsidizing environmental catastrophe

@Michael Downing: Well said. Even without taxpayer funding, injecting toxic chemicals underground where they remain hazardous to our drinking water aquifers is ludicrous. And to fund their activities is insane! If they would just think about what they are doing. And why build all that infrastructure to ship our natural gas elsewhere? Preposterous!!!

Such silliness

BOOK:
"Groundswell: The Case for Fracking"
by Ezra Levant
http://www.amazon.com/Groundswell-Case-Fracking-Ezra-Levant/dp/0771046448

Biased Nonsense

Antidote

BOOK:
"Groundswell: The Case for Fracking"
by Ezra Levant
http://www.amazon.com/Groundswell-Case-Fracking-Ezra-Levant/dp/0771046448

MOVIE:
"Fracknation"
http://fracknation.com/

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