Smoky Mountain News: Fracking opposition organizes in WNC

Here’s an excerpt from the Smoky Mountain News article:

Candice Caldwell Day and her husband Shayne recently went to Andrews Airport in Cherokee County.

“To hold up a really big sign,” she said.

Day and her husband went to the airport to greet Gov. Pat McCrory as he arrived for the GOP state convention. They wanted to let him know how they felt about state lawmakers’ recent green lighting of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

The couple moved to the area from West Virginia. They are avid paddlers. And now, fledgling organizers for a stand against hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Western North Carolina.

Having moved from a fracking state, Day said she was disappointed to see North Carolina open the door for the extraction method, which involves injecting explosives into the ground to create fissures before pumping a mixture of water, chemicals and sand into the cracks so that any oil or gas will make its way to the surface.

“We’ve been living amongst the fracking hell that is West Virginia,” Day said.

During their trip to see McCrory at the airport, the couple met about 20 other likeminded people. They found out the Canary Coalition, a Jackson County environmental organization focused on air quality issues, was organizing a protest across the street from Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, where the GOP was holding its annual convention.

“So, then we went there,” said Day.

At the GOP protest, they found even more people freaked out about fracking. They began to organize, and the Coalition Against Fracking in Western North Carolina was soon born in Swain County. ….

These fracking opponents cringe at the purported specter of homes with flammable taps due to contaminated groundwater. They decry the unknown chemical make-up of the compounds used in the fracking process and question the possibility of a link between an increase in natural gas exploration and earthquakes. They encourage people to watch “Gasland,” a documentary film and staple viewing in anti-fracking circles.

Fracking supporters, however, say that groundwater contamination isn’t much of a concern with wells that drill as deep as the ones proposed, and they prop up the latest technology as something of a miracle, capable of extracting valuable resources while keeping contaminants out of the environment.

“It’s become a huge network,” Day said.


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