Reposted from Southern Pines “The Pilot”
The state Senate picked an odd day to rush headlong into passage of an ill-considered bill legalizing fracking in North Carolina.
The senators, as it happened, voted on the same day that the eminently objective and credible U.S. Geological Survey issued a report vastly lowering the estimate of how much natural gas might lie trapped underground in the state and accessible through the highly questionable extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing.
Whereas earlier estimates had said that the state had a supply large enough to take care of the state’s gas needs for 40 years into the future, the USGS now says it looks more like 5.6 years. Oops.
This debate is of far more than academic interest locally, since all or most of that gas, regardless of how long it might last, lies in the Deep River Basin, which just happens to underlie the counties of Lee, Chatham — and Moore.
More Doubtful Than Ever
Some pro-fracking industry ads proclaim that fracking here is as smart and wholesome and all-American as apple pie, since it would allow North Carolinians to use good old home-grown natural gas instead of the kind they would otherwise have to buy from strangers in foreign countries with odd-sounding names.
That’s disingenuous at best. For one thing, gas is gas, wherever it comes from. And given modern global marketing realities, any gas blasted out of the ground here would surely end up flowing into pipelines leading who-knows-where rather than necessarily being consumed by North Carolinians.
Besides, even if all the gas produced here were to be consumed here, is the prospect of a five-year supply really worth the danger of doing long-term harm to the natural and human environment in a place like Moore County? Our continued economic well-being, after all, depends heavily on keeping things clean and pleasant for permanent residents and for the influx of outside visitors attracted to this special corner of the world.
The Senate should reconsider its 29-19 vote approving the act in light of this new information. In any case, the House ought to think long and hard before joining in this unwise wish to grease the skids for something that needs to be slowed down, not speeded up.
Disappointment in Blake
We are disappointed, though not surprised, that our own state Sen. Harris Blake not only voted for the bill but also co-sponsored it. He seems to have been an advocate of fracking since before most of us even understood what it was. After a recent industry-sponsored trip to Pennsylvania, he called the process “a godsend.”
It is possible to find a bit of encouragement in the statement made by our own state Rep. Jamie Boles, who said the new USGS survey had “kind of caught me off guard,” seeming to indicate that it might, just might, change his mind.
Boles was also right to express concern about the makeup of the proposed new Mining & Energy Commission and the marching orders it might be given. Clearly this new commission, whose responsibilities would include oversight of fracking operations, must be an independent body representing the people of the state and not a rubber-stamp agency packed with industry cronies.
This particular henhouse is far too important to be placed under the supervision of foxes.