Senate passes fracking bill over Nesbitt’s objection; House expected to ratify today

A contentious bill to allow hydrolic fracturing – or “fracking” – for oil and gas exploration in the state passed the N.C. Senate on Wednesday by a 29-19 majority, and is expected to be voted on today in the House. The Senate vote followed a standing-room-only Commerce Committee hearing on Tuesday, which saw Senate Democratic Leader Martin Nesbitt, Jr., of Buncombe County, speak out against the bill .

A report in the Charlotte Observer quoted Nesbitt’s warning that: “If you mess up the water tables of this state, you’re done. If you get bleed-through from a mining operation, you’re done forever – that place is wiped out.” (Fracking involves injecting pressurized fluid into shale rock formations to release gas and petroleum.) 

But the bill in question (SB 820), entitled the Clean Energy and Economic Security Act, has several Western North Carolina co-sponsors, including Republican Sen. Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville—who represents Buncombe, Henderson and Polk counties. Republicans Jim Davis of Franklin and Ralph Hise of Spruce Pine are also co-sponsors. The bill is expected to pass in the House, and then will face Gov. Bev Perdue and the possibility of a veto. The governor, who quashed an earlier bill calling for test drilling, has subsequently announced that she believes drilling can be done safely in the state. But the safety provisions of SB 820 and its expedited scheduling could prove inadequate for her measure.

On the same day that SB 820 passed the Senate, the N.C. Department of Energy and Natural Resources announced the findings of an assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey of the undiscovered oil and gas resources for five East Coast Mesozoic basins, including North Carolina, indicating natural gas resources in this state’s Deep River Basin sufficient to meet North Carolina’s natural gas demand for approximately 5.6 years. A smaller formation, the Dan River-Danville Basin, is estimated to contain a potential 60-day supply. Both basins are located in the piedmont area of the state.

The House convenes today at noon. Also on the schedule are the reconsideration of five bills formerly ratified but then vetoed by Gov. Bev Perdue, including HB 351, the Restore Confidence in Government legislation requiring photo identification in order to vote; SB 9, called the No Discriminatory Purpose in Death Penalty, which essentially repeals the state’s Racial Justice Act; and SB 709, known as the Energy Jobs Act, which deals withoffshore and onshore energy development and prospective state revenues, and directs the governor to establish a regional energy pact with Virginia and South Carolina.

by Nelda Holder, associate editor



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11 thoughts on “Senate passes fracking bill over Nesbitt’s objection; House expected to ratify today

  1. James

    This is bad news for NC the people and the land. Although much of NC’s power already comes from fracking the Marcellus Shale in other states, it’s extremely important for everyone to understand the implications of hydraulic fracturing.

    Watch the movie Gasland for an introduction to fracking. Learn the facts about how fracking works

    The Shadbush Collective offers this great resource:

    “The safety of our drinking water from wells, treatment plants and the health of our environment is at risk due to the amount of water involved in the fracking process, the chemicals added to the slickwater, the additional chemicals that come up to the surface of the Earth after a fracturing operation

  2. NC Geo

    Considering there is potentially only about 6 years supply of natural gas located inside our state’s border’s, I’m not sure why this has become such an outstanding issue. Exploration, wildcat-drilling(essentially unregulated drilling) and well development would pump off quite a bit of that with almost no real way to account for it.
    Not to mention the price per unit of natural gas has dropped in the past few years as a direct result of domestic oil drilling practices, mainly in Oklahoma.
    So, considering the overall price and supply, one must come to the realization that this is merely another political football.

  3. It is unfortunate that Senator Nesbitt does not tell us specifically in what way fracking “messes up” the water. Hydraulic fracturing takes place over a mile deep into the ground, well below and water tables. Typically, steel pipe known as surface casing is cemented into place at the uppermost portion of a well for the explicit purpose of protecting the groundwater. Either Senator Nesbitt is reticent for some reason to explain further his opposition to fracking or he is just plain ignorant of the facts of the vital energy-producing practice. Assuming, of course, the later, here is a video that will help him overcome his embarrassing ignorance on the subject:

    Fracking and the Future of Energy

    • bill smith

      “Well below the water table”

      Do you just make this stuff up as you go? How about a source? (Not a youtube video, thanks)

  4. Barry Summers

    Once again, Mr. Peck(1) can’t help but turn his comments into an insult. I think Sen. Nesbitt understands the issues just fine. His disagreement does not make him “ignorant”.

    But since you bring it up…

    “Hydraulic fracturing takes place over a mile deep into the ground, well below and water tables.”

    In fact, it’s you who appears ignorant of the facts. North Carolina shale is much shallower than deposits in other regions:

    “The shale formations in Lee County are estimated at a depth of 2,400 to 3,800 feet.”

    Much closer to the water table.

    “In the Sanford sub-

  5. Dionysis

    Mr. Peck, now having gotten everyone staightened out on the proper political philosophy to adopt, is now sharing the fruits of awesome scientific background to play cheerleader to the taxpayer-subsidized energy industry.

    The degree of pure unadulterated ignorance shown in this post nearly matches the ignorance of comments like “climate change is a hoax.” And instead of facts to back up the nonsense, a youtube video of an industry hack of offered (something called the ‘Center for Industrial Progress’).

    It is understood that you will avoid any and all objective facts that threaten your knee-jerk cheerleading for any and all efforts for profit-making; clean water and an unspoiled environment be damned.

    Start here instead of with some pathetic, mealy-mouthed industry lackey.

  6. michael debruhl blankenship

    Two earthquakes nears Columbus NC in the last decade.
    earthquake tremor radiating from Hot Springs, remember?
    We liive along a geological fault through here.
    All the lical dams, Lake Lure, James, etc., will be 100 years old soon: there is already an active compromise and leak through the Lake Lure infrastructure.
    St’ Lawrence has a suspended dome and it is over 100 years old, too.
    Imagine fracqing somewhere near here, or anywhere.
    Imagine the crust of the earth destabilizing
    Imagine a random quake, this time magnafued in intensity because the terra firma mother earth has weakened.
    Imagine bug time catastrophe along the Broad River as a dam becomes structurally compromised, flooding the isothermal low lands.
    Imagine St. Lawrence as a pile of worthless brick rubble.
    Tim Moffit snd company are facust political gangsters: they will never return your calls, let alone acknowledge
    the existence of reason. It’s now, the time to mobilize en mass against this Republican blight on our mountain enviornment and their crusade to punish Asheville and Buncombe County because it is the stategy of Art Pope, ALEC and Karl Rove. This will never stand.

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