News Feature | August 6, 2014

North Carolina: The Next Big Fracking State?

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome

North Carolina: The Next Big Fracking State?

Fracking is not practiced in North Carolina, but that has not kept a heated debate on the issue from breaking out in this state.

According to a column in the Asheville Citizen-Times, fracking in North Carolina is "not going on—yet. The latest step involves [stage regulators] going out and collecting and testing rock samples, looking particularly for total organic carbon, and indicator of natural gas. This is all happening at the direction of the General Assembly."

As state officials make plans to update environmental regulations the fracking question has taken center stage. Activists say that the update will not go far enough to address their concerns about the energy industry.  

"Environmental advocates criticized a long-overdue update of North Carolina water-quality standards for not including limits on fracking chemicals and other contaminants," the Charlotte Observer reported.

The environmental community was skeptical of the update from the gate, since it has taken years for regulators to get around to it. 

"States are required to review their water-quality standards every three years, but North Carolina last did so in 2007. The state Environmental Management Commission is expected to consider them this fall," the report continued. 

Will Hendrick, an environmental lawyer, issued a lukewarm commentary on the effort during a recent hearing. 

“I’m reluctant to applaud the state for doing something it should have done years ago,” he said, per the report. “The science has been there for years – it’s just been ignored.”

Sarah Collins of the N.C. League of Municipalities had a more positive assessment. She called the effort “a good balance of environmental protection without putting unnecessary costs on the regulated community,” the report said. 

Facing South, a progressive group, said the state has long struggled with the fracking issue. "Controversy has loomed over North Carolina's fracking rule-making process from the start," the group said. 

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