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Stories and features about North Carolina candidates, voters, and the politics of the 2014 mid-term elections. Polls are open across N.C. until 7:30 p.m. on election day, November 4.

NC Senate Committees Move State One Step Closer To Fracking

Photo: A pond in Lee County
Donald Lee Pardue via Flickr

Two North Carolina legislative committees recommended on Tuesday that the state begin issuing permits in July next year for mining companies to extract natural gas in the state using a controversial drilling method known as fracking.

State lawmakers looked at different types of fracking legislation in 2012 and 2013. On Tuesday, the senate’s commerce and finance committees sent the bill to the senate floor for a vote. Sen. Buck Newton (R-Wilson) is one of the sponsors.

“We can keep talking it to death,” Newton said. “But in my opinion, it's time to fish or cut bait, and it's time to move forward.”

But observers say the state hasn’t looked closely enough at how to regulate this kind of industry. Elizabeth Ouzts, of Environment North Carolina, says water from fracking is a major contamination risk.

“And then there are many, many unanswered questions about property rights, about air polution, and about even forcing people to allow fracking on their own private property, even if they don't want it," Ouzts said.

The bill would make it a crime for the state to publicly identify some of the chemicals drilling companies mix with water and sand to extract gas through fracking. It also would bar local governments from prohibiting fracking.

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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