The North Carolina legislature may legalize fracking just in
time for Flag Day.
A bill in the Tar Heel State would repeal old bans on lateral
drilling and using chemicals in certain ways underground, which
would clear the way for fracking - the common term for hydraulic
The News & Observer
, the Clean Energy and Economic
Act was recently passed by the state Senate and could be heard by
the House Environment Committee as soon as Tuesday, with a vote
potentially lined up for Wednesday.
Some Democrats in the legislature have made the argument that
fracking could potentially harm the environments, while most in the
Republican majority have cited the potential economic benefits of
production into the state.
The move by North Carolina comes at a time when many municipalities
and states around the country are moving to ban fracking or at
least place a moratorium on its practice due to environmental
concerns. However, the science may be on the side of the GOP Tar
Heels, as a number of studies have shown that the supposed
environmental effects of fracking may be overblown.
Earlier this year, a study conducted by the Polish Geological
Institute found that groundwater was not contaminated during
fracking operations in the Eastern European country, reports
"Fluids were under constant control and their uncontrolled leakage
to the environment was not possible," the study stated. "The impact
of drilling related to hydraulic cracking on the quality of surface
water was not observed. Underground drilling has not affected
hydrological conditions around the well."
Another study - this one conducted by the University of Texas -
also found that fracking did not pose a threat to groundwater.
However, UT geology professor Charles Groat did say that the study
did not close the book on fracking's safety.
has lots of stories to tell," he told
Inside Science News Service
. "It's a great resource for this country and many other parts of
the world. It's a game-changer in terms of the energy balance. We
think it can be regulated effectively and is being done so largely,
but certainly there are evolving issues that need more serious
attention paid to them."
Still, North Carolina appears poised to legalize fracking although,
the question remains: will it matter?
Steve Heron, the south region exploration manager with Cabot
& Gas in Houston, said that North Carolina isn't likely to
attract any major oil and gas companies due to its underwhelming
reserves. In addition, Heron said that the state's lack of natural
gas infrastructure would be a hinderance as well.
"We didn't think it was that big, and we walked from it," he told
the New & Observer. "You've got a bunch of scattered basins
with small reserves, and no infrastructure."
Recently the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that North Carolina's
Deep River Basin - which covers 1,250 square miles and stretches
from Durham to the state's southern border - could potentially
contain nearly 1.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. While this
may seem like a lot, the U.S. Energy Information Administration
estimates that the entire country has about 273 trillion cubic
Regardless of the reserves in the state, it would still take a few
years for the law to go into effect, according to the news
provider. It would take two to three years for the regulations to
be finalized and then they would also have to be approved by the