ABC 11, By Jon Camp
RALEIGH (WTVD) –After years of wrangling by lawmakers, commissioners, and North Carolinians, the Tar Heel State is now open for fracking. Tuesday, the application process opened up for companies interested in drilling for natural gas in North Carolina.
Critics came out swinging, charging that the new rules, which also went into effect, are poorly crafted and don’t keep the promise made by lawmakers in recent years that they would ensure North Carolina had the strongest fracking laws in the country.
“The rules are simply insufficient to move forward with the issuing of permits,” said Sen. Mike Woodard (D-Durham). “We’ve been promised over the last five years that North Carolina would have the nation’s toughest fracking rules, and here we are at zero hours and we do not have those rules. We need to stop, slow down and we need to spend more time living up to the promise we made to the people of North Carolina to implement the nation’s toughest rules.”
Concerns about the new rules run the gamut from lack of local control to the question of who pays for damage done by fracking equipment to the concern over major environmental disaster.
Rep. Robert Reives (D-Sanford) expressed concern that the required minimum $1 million in disaster mitigation bond wouldn’t be enough.
“Whatever somebody feels about the issue of fracking, what you have to recognize is, just like any other industry, there will most likely be some sort of accident,” said Reives, “and if we don’t have appropriate bonding for these companies coming in then that will be left for the taxpayers to pay for that.”
Reives also worried that local governments are shutout of the process and have little control over fracking in their backyard.
“We ought to allow local governments to have the right to regulate the noise,” said Reives. “We ought to have them have the right to be able to regulate where they can do their fracking, what neighborhoods are affected. We want local governments to have the opportunity to regulate fracking. Right now, we’ve got issues galore with the rules with the fact that they do not address who’s going to pay for all the damage, whenever trucks are coming back and forth on your roads in your counties. How do you get that damage paid for?”