On the eve of the biennial session adjournment, the House held a successful vote to override the Governor’s all-too-familiar veto; this time on hydraulic fracturing legislation. This long-awaited bill, SB 820, passed through the General Assembly with bi-partisan support in order to bring strong, energy-focused legislation to the people of North Carolina.
During this hallmark vote Monday evening, Rep. Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg) accidentally voted green to override the veto on the fracking legislation. By way of the House rules, the vote was not allowed to be changed as it would alter the fate of the legislation. And to nobody’s surprise, the 72-47 vote was met with passionate spin by those opposing the legislation.
We have all heard those in boisterous opposition, claiming that this fracking legislation will cause geological catastrophe in North Carolina, decrease the quality of drinking water, etc. Despite these claims, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the exploration and possible practice of hydraulic fracturing could have significant economic benefits.
Lets educate ourselves and take a look at what this bill really accomplishes for the future energy independence of North Carolina. The bill, in its entirety, resurrects the Old Mining Commission to be the torch bearer in the path of safety regulations and rules according to the practice of horizontal drilling/Natural Gas Extraction. This Commission will investigate, review and set regulations for future shale drilling. This bill does not completely legalize the practice just yet, but does provide those interested in horizontal drilling the tools and knowledge of how to plan for future extraction.
Geological studies across the state show that a generation of working North Carolinians could benefit from the extraction of natural gas. Estimates by state geologists show that there is a significant amount of shale gas beneath several counties in the Piedmont region. Years of economic growth and development is not only attractive to those living in North Carolina, but will produce an atmosphere that will foster business expansion. A recent study also predicts that North Carolina consumers will benefit over $100 billion a year with expanded resources.
North Carolina consumers need this change; to not only relieve the strain they are feeling on their wallet, but to come one step closer to energy independence. The passage of this bill is a great moment that symbolizes the direction North Carolina is set to move in.