Nov. 10, in Sou Pines, Discuss, Learn about Fracking


On Thursday, November 10, 7 PM at the Days Inn Of Southern Pines, the nonprofit organization Save Our Sandhills will host Carol French and Carolyn Knapp, dairy farmers from Bradford County, Pennsylvania, who have witnessed firsthand the effects of the gas extraction boom, known as fracking, and Hope Taylor, Executive Director of Clean Water for North Carolina (CWFNC).

As you may know, this natural gas boom that is sweeping across the United States may soon reach Lee County and northern Moore County. Geologists believe that there is a major sub-basin of natural gas that extends from Granville County above Durham southward through the Sanford area and into Moore County to the vicinity of Carthage. Some early estimates indicate that this area might yield as much as a 40-year supply of natural gas. Fracking of natural gas wells would take place in northern Moore County within the Triassic Deep River Basin/Sanford Sub-basin, and it could have great implications through all of Moore County. The Marcellus Shale gas deposits in Pennsylvania are different from those in our Triassic Deep River Basin/Sanford Sub-basin. Our gas deposits lie closer to the surface, have more faults, and may be less extensive.

We keep hearing that fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has been around for decades. Therefore, why the big fuss now? Well, until recently, natural gas drilling consisted of “vertical” wells being drilled or fracked in order to retrieve the gas from porous rocks such as limestone and sandstone. Other gas in tight rock formations, such as shale, tight sand and coal beds, was uneconomical to extract until fracking with “horizontal” wells was conceived. This method of drilling involves injecting more than a million gallons of water and sand, as well as a toxic cocktail of chemicals under high pressure into the rock formation to release the gas. It has been estimated that over a 4-year period, up to 140 million gallons of water can be used by just one gas well.

Hope Taylor, Executive Director of CWFNC, will speak on the environmental and health impacts of hydraulic fracturing as well as current regulations and legislation in North Carolina. Following this, French and Knapp will talk about their firsthand experiences regarding fracking on their farms. Since 1999, Taylor has served as Executive Director of Durham-based CWFNC, a statewide science-based nonprofit that focuses on environmental health, drinking water and the impacts of energy production on water. Her background, which includes a Master of Science in Public Health degree in Environmental Science and Engineering from UNC-Chapel Hill, plus twenty years as a biomedical researcher at National Institutes of Health and Duke University, makes her an effective and knowledgeable advocate for the people and communities of North Carolina. In 2009, the EPA appointed Taylor to its National Drinking Water Advisory Council. In her spare time, Taylor is also a dairy goat farmer in the upper end of the Triassic Basin shale area. CWFNC promotes clean, safe ground and surface water and environments through organizing, education, advocacy and technical assistance.

Carol French and Carolyn Knapp are dairy farmers, one conventional and one organic, whose families had leased their farmland to gas companies for a small source of income for years. They had no expectation that gas development was imminent or that horizontal fracking would be developed and permitted in Pennsylvania. When Marcellus shale gas extraction with horizontal drilling began rapidly developing in 2007, many landowners were caught completely off guard. In 2010, French and Knapp founded Pennsylvania Landowners’ Group for Awareness and Solutions, an organization committed to educating farmers, landowners and the public about the consequences of rapid gas development. Both are familiar with the ‘good,’ the ‘bad,’ and the ‘ugly’ concerning gas extraction, as they live in Pennsylvania’s county that has been most impacted from rapid gas development. They presented a very powerful presentation at a Statewide Summit on Fracking Impacts in Pittsboro on September 10. Knowing that both sides of the issue need to be explored, they discuss the ‘good’ that can come from gas exploration: revenue for landowners from leasing agreements, jobs in the gas industry, business for restaurants, hotels and lawyers. And they raise awareness about the ‘bad’: questionable leases favoring gas companies, liens on property, mortgage conflicts, heavy truck traffic, social disintegration, loss of agricultural land, ground water contamination, increased community and farming costs, loss of tourism. They will also respond to industry messaging about the potential for shale gas to contribute to “energy independence” in the US, and to create sustainable jobs and other widespread economic benefits. Both suggest that we learn from other states by setting up support centers in our local communities.

Hear personal accounts from Carol French and Carolyn Knapp who are living with fracking on their lands on a daily basis. Their personal experiences can help us sort the good from the bad, and help us put guidelines in place to protect our communities if fracking is legalized as proposed in North Carolina. These guidelines can safeguard our air and water, our environment, and our way of life for future generations. We need to balance the promise of riches with the peril of drilling.

Join us for an informative presentation on Thursday November 10, 7 PM at the Days Inn Of Southern Pines, located at 650 US Highway 1 South (near the intersection of Morganton Road). Refreshments will be served. All are welcome.

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