Public Comment on Fracking, two meetings

Legislative Watch: Fracking Report Released, Hearings Planned

The long-anticipated state report on fracking was released late last week, and contains conclusions guaranteed to dissatisfy all perspectives. In sum, the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) draft report concludes that 'fracking'--hydraulic fracturing to release natural gas contained in rock layers--and the horizontal drilling to conduct it can be done safely. However, it also says that additional legal and regulatory safeguards are needed first.
The report's recommendations for safety steps proceeding the authorization of fracking include the following:
--Further study of the potential impacts on groundwater in areas where exploration may take place.
--State-approved plans limiting the amounts of water that can be withdrawn during the process.
--Mandated disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process, with public disclosure of any information not protected by 'trade secret' status.
--Development of an oil and gas waste management regulatory program.
The report's recommendations are not likely to please either those whose position is 'no fracking, no way', nor those whose mantra is 'drill now, drill everywhere, for everything'.
DENR's press release with more information is available at http://portal.ncdenr.org/c/journal/view_article_content?groupId=21953&articleId=6157644, and the full draft report can be found at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/guest/denr-study.
The two meetings to accept public comments on the draft report are scheduled for March 20 at the Wicker Center in Sanford, and March 27 at the East Chapel Hill High School auditorium in Chapel Hill. Both public meetings are scheduled to run from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
DENR is required to make its final report to the N.C. General Assembly no later than May 1. The legislature's special Energy Policy Committee is set to meet April 21, and is likely to take up the report for discussion whether the final is ready or not.

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