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Fracking Bill Gains Tentative Approval In Senate

State lawmakers have tentatively approved a measure that would launch the permitting process for natural gas fracking in North Carolina. House legislators passed the bill this afternoon. It would remove a previous requirement that state lawmakers give final approval before the permitting process could begin. Republican Senator Buck Newton is one of the bill's sponsors.

"The energy industry will not come to North Carolina and invest all the time and money resources that are necessary to build this industry, unless they know that the moratorium is eventually going to be lifted," Newton said.  "They learned a very hard lesson in New York, where they have a non-ending permanent moratorium, after they invested millions of dollars."

The bill would allow North Carolina to issue permits beginning on March first of 2015. It would also remove the state geologist and water and air experts from the state Mining and Energy Commission, which is authorized to oversee fracking. Several Democrats expressed concerns that the measure removes consumer and environmental protections. The bill will return to the Senate for final approval.

Jessica Jones covers both the legislature in Raleigh and politics across the state. Before her current assignment, Jessica was given the responsibility to open up WUNC's first Greensboro Bureau at the Triad Stage in 2009. She's a seasoned public radio reporter who's covered everything from education to immigration, and she's a regular contributor to NPR's news programs. Jessica started her career in journalism in Egypt, where she freelanced for international print and radio outlets. After stints in Washington, D.C. with Voice of America and NPR, Jessica joined the staff of WUNC in 1999. She is a graduate of Yale University.
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