North Carolina panel holds final discussion on fracking rules

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Fracking is one step closer to happening in North Carolina.

Late Friday afternoon, the group charged with drafting the rules that govern the controversial drilling method unanimously approved what those rules should be.

As late as today, the group was making meaningful changes to the rules on everything from the monitoring of the companies and the pits that hold toxic waste water to who should have the authority to stop a project with suspected violations.

Sharon Garbutt lives in Chatham County and was one of only a half dozen residents and advocates listening in as the Mining and Energy Commission debated the rules.

"This is happening in my backyard," Garbutt said during a break. "Every decision they make will affect the health of my family. It will affect my quality of life. It will affect the roads I drive on, the water I drink, the air I breathe. Every single decision they make is vital to my way of life and my health and safety and to that of my children, family and friends."

"I think everybody would agree that this industry has the potential to impact health and the environment. I don't think there's any way around that," said Amy Pickle, Vice Chair of the MEC. "We have incorporated as many of the concerns as we can, we've done our best to address them within the framework and process that we have and within the time limit we've been given."

Still, Pickle finds common ground with Garbutt in the claim that, even after today's vote, there is still more work to do.

"There are some areas that, I think all the commissioners would agree, need additional work," said Pickle. "That there's uncertainty around, that we need additional research, that the science is nascent and just evolving and I don't think anyone should take this rule making as the last effort to regulate this industry."

The set of draft rules now goes to another state agency to make sure all the commas are in the right place and then it's to the legislature for lawmakers' approval.

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