Fracking opponents make voices heard

March 19, 2013 8:12:55 PM PDT
Protesters took a stand against fracking Tuesday evening.

Fracking is a controversial mining process used to extract natural gas from underground.

Republicans in the State Senate have filed a bill that paves the way for onshore and offshore drilling in 2015.

About 150 people from more than a half dozen groups gathered to urge lawmakers to scrap the idea of fracking altogether.      

"Can you picture the beautiful central countryside of North Carolina with all of these trucks and all of these drilling fans," said Marvin Woll, of the Sierra Club. "I'd hate to see it."

Fracking calls for horizontally drilling and pumping millions of gallons of water into shale rock to force out natural gas.

Amid heated debate last year, the General Assembly approved the process in our state, but under a two-year moratorium to give lawmakers time to set up regulations.

However, Senate Bill 76, which is now in the State House, would override the moratorium and allow the state to issue permits in 2015 without restriction.

"Fracking involves the use of a lot of water and also the storage of a lot of toxic waste water," said Woll.

The fear here as in other parts of the country, is fracking potentially polluting the ground water once its waste is stored.

Republicans who've lauded the process' safety say it'll make the state energy independent and bring jobs.

"Energy self-sufficiency is going to be very critical to the state as far as economic growth," said Sen. Bob Rucho, a Republican from District 39.

It's a pitch these protestors aren't buying.    

"It's just bad for the state as a whole," said activist William Barber III. "We know they're not doing it because of economic necessity. It's a few people who want to grab a couple of dollars that they can control."

Another part of SB76 would remove air and water experts from the state's Mining and Energy Commission. It would also allow driller to pump waste water back into the ground.

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