We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
What the Frack?
Anti-fracking campaign launched in NC as pressure grows for gas drilling
The move comes the same week President Obama delivered a State of the Union address that called for increased drilling for natural gas. It also comes as the Republican-controlled N.C. legislature is pressing to allow gas development.
On Jan. 25, the North Carolina chapter of the Sierra Club unveiled “The Fracking Truth” campaign — including a website called The Daily Frack — to call critical attention to fracking, a method of drilling that uses chemicals and water to fracture shale rock formations and release natural gas.
“We launched The Daily Frack to help the citizens of North Carolina get a better understanding of what fracking might mean for our communities,” said Molly Diggins, chapter director.
Central North Carolina sits atop a shale formation that some experts have said could hold enough natural gas to power the state for 40 years. The state is currently studying the potential environmental, economic and social impacts of shale gas development and is scheduled to release its final report in May, with legislators expected to reconsider the ban soon after.
Last year the Republican-controlled N.C. General Assembly passed a bill called the Energy Jobs Act that would have pushed the state closer to fracking, but Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue vetoed the measure. The Senate overrode the veto; while the House leadership has repeatedly promised an override, it has not yet brought up the matter for a vote.
That doesn’t mean North Carolina lawmakers have given up, though: Just last week, a state Senate committee held a hearing on fracking that featured proponents of the practice, including a former industry consultant who advised working with the American Petroleum Institute to create model legislation.
But the push to open up domestic gas reserves is not coming only from Republicans, as President Obama made clear in his Jan. 24 address:
We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years. And my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy.
Obama also said he would require companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. His pledge comes amid a growing push by states to require greater disclosure of fracking chemicals.
Starting Feb. 1, Texas will become the latest state to require drilling companies to disclose the volumes of chemicals and water they use in the fracking process. Well-by-well data will be published at an online public clearinghouse at FracFocus.org, which is managed by the Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. Other states that require data to be posted on FracFocus.org are Colorado, Montana, Louisiana and North Dakota.
Pennsylvania, which has been the center of a shale gas boom since 2008, requires companies to disclose fracking chemicals to the state Department of Environmental Protection. Arkansas and Wyoming also have fracking fluid disclosure rules.
Obama’s call for greater disclosure of fracking chemicals was met with hostility from some of his political opponents. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chair of the House Government Oversight Committee, called the disclosure demand a “not-so-veiled threat” to force companies to reveal proprietary information:
“These are trade secrets,” Representative Issa said. “He has a right to get a sample of the chemical they’re putting down — that’s very different than making them disclose their secret ingredients. And I’m sure he drinks Diet Coke, I’m sure he’d like that recipe too — but it’s not his right.”
Meanwhile, environmental advocates complained that Obama didn’t go far enough to address concerns over fracking, with the Environmental Working Group charging the president — who said natural gas development could support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade — with using the industry’s inflated employment numbers.
The Environmental Protection Agency is currently studying fracking’s potential impact on drinking water. It anticipates releasing an initial report this year, with an additional report to come in late 2014.
“This debate is going to be around for awhile,” said Diggins. “I think it will be the biggest environmental debate of the year in North Carolina.”
- Editor's note: This story first posted January 26, 2012 at Facing South, SouthernStudies.org. Map of N.C. shale gas deposits from N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
Americans anticipating a British driving vacation face two problems: driving on the “wrong” (left) side of the road… and British roundabouts. Britain has more roundabouts as a proportion of roads than any other country. Many get confused at negotiating the roundabout, while driving in a left-side steering car gets a little more comfortable after a while. Americans vacationing in France face only the roundabout problem, as the French drive on the “right” side of the road. Yet there are more roundabouts in France (30,000 as of 2008) than in any other nation. After lunch one Sunday at the intersection of Brown’s Bridge Road and Ge Read on →
At age 5 I told anyone who asked, and lots who didn't, "I want to be a doctor in the daytime and a preacher at night." Likely that was connected to the two people outside my family whom I most admired, our doctor who lived in the big house on the corner of our block, and our preacher who lived in the big house on the corner of the next block over. The preacher and my dad were classmates at college and in the vacant lots behind our house and in front of his they planted a Victory Garden together -- Read on →
Grandpa was a quiet and gentle man. Grandma did most of the talking. He was over six feet tall and she was a little over five feet, feisty and independent. They obviously had agreed that he would make the big decisions and she would make all the small ones. All of the decisions were small. I was four years old when my brother and I were sent to live with Grandma and Grandpa, whom I called Papa, during World War II. My father was away, not at war because he had failed the medical, working on the railroad tracks and bridges. Read on →
Grandpa was not a storyteller. It was only later, when Grandma wasn’t around, that he told me a few stories about his life and parents. He never talked about the hard times during the Great Depression, but he said enough to encourage me in later life to research his family history. When he died all of Grandma’s and Grandpa’s personal things, letters and photographs were given to my older cousin because she was the only granddaughter. By the time I became interested in our family history everything had been thrown away except some old photographs. I started the long and frust Read on →