On June 14, 2012 the North Carolina House of Representatives approved House Bill 820 that would allow hydraulic fracturing drilling, also known as fracking, within the state. The bill was endorsed by a 66 to 43 vote in the House and will return to the Senate for consideration of minor amendments before being given to Governor Beverly Perdue to either endorse or veto.
Most Democrats opposed the bill and some attempted to add amendments in an effort to protect the citizens of North Carolina. The amendments, rejected by the Republicans in the House, included one that sought more time for studies to be performed and three others to protect the personal property rights for landowners near horizontal drilling. One of the amendments designed to protect the property rights of landowners dealt with the concept of forced pooling, which forces a landowner to allow drilling on their property if their surrounding neighbors are permitting it. Republican Mitch Gillespie defended the idea of forced pooling by arguing that some states allow oil and gas companies to drill under dissenting landowners’ property regardless if they have consent and forced pooling will at least allow those who oppose such drilling to receive some compensation.
Those that support the bill state that fracking will help the state harvest domestic energy and create new jobs. However, environmentalists are concerned that fracking has not been studied enough and could lead to groundwater contamination, earthquakes and flammable drinking water. Another concern with this type of drilling is that the method involves injecting massive amounts of chemicals into the ground to free trapped natural gas. Many of these chemicals are unknown because they are protected under trade secret laws. Representative Gillespie also defended this practice by stating other states do not require oil and gas companies to disclose what chemicals they are injecting into the ground.
Governor Perdue has stated that she believes fracking can be done safely in North Carolina and is expected to receive the bill next week to make the final decision to endorse or veto such.