Industry tours of Pennsylvania fracking sites last fall left North Carolina lawmakers giddy over advanced technologies, best practices and the economic promise of natural gas exploration. Riding that wave of optimism, the state legislature narrowly voted this summer to start the process of legalizing fracking in North Carolina.
Now, nearly a year after the Pennsylvania tours and three months after the contentious vote in Raleigh, state lawmakers have a more sober assessment of fracking after a four-day visit this month to Texas, the nation’s No. 1 natural gas producer. The most recent fact-finding trip highlighted the complex issues facing this state as a new N.C. Mining & Energy Commission begins the task of creating regulations to protect public safety and the environment.
“We didn’t just get inundated with one side,” Rep. Rodney Moore, a Democrat from Mecklenburg County who supports fracking, said about the trip. “From what I saw in Texas, I would say we have a long way to go. We’re somewhere in a three- to five-year process.”