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NC To Test Air Above Potential Fracking Sites

A survey from the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources shows natural gas deposits in central NC.
NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources

State regulators plan to measure air quality above deposits of natural gas. North Carolina lawmakers are moving to ease regulations on hydraulic fracturing. 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources started talking with leaders in Lee County this week about where the agency could build an air quality testing station.  The county lies on top of a significant supply of natural gas in central North Carolina.  The department says it wants to determine the county's baseline of air quality before natural gas companies bring in fracking equipment.

"There will be additional diesel engines, for example, on sites that run drills, pumps and compressors," says Mike Abraczinskas, deputy director of the state Division of Air Quality.

"Those result in a variety of different air emissions in different magnitudes and it depends on the amount of time that those activities are taking place."

Abraczinskas  says it's not yet clear how fracking could impact air quality.  He hopes to conduct tests for at least a year, starting this summer or fall.  The General Assembly is considering a bill that would start issuing fracking permits in 2015.

Will Michaels is WUNC's General Assignment Reporter and fill-in host for "Morning Edition"
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