I’ve started this blog as a way to present various information regarding hyrdraulic fracturing (a.k.a., “fracking”) for shale gas extraction as North Carolina considers restructuring it regulatory framework to allow the technique. Currently, North Carolina laws prohibit the injection of fluids into the substrate and directional drilling, both of which are integral to hydraulic fracturing. Because the technique of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas has proven to be an effective technique in other states to extract valuable natural gas resources, the State of North Carolina is reviewing its policies to permit the practice. There are known natural gas resources in the Triassic Basins, particularly in the Durham-Sanford sub-basin.
The purpose of this blog is to present various background information so that North Carolinians may set good public policy. There are numerous issues around the issue of fracking, and my hope is to set pages here for these areas of concern, knowing there will be much overlap. This will not contain an exhaustive research of information, but more of a sampling. I do not plan to offer opinions, though I will state observations where I have them. I invite feedback and links to additional resources in the effort to gather objective information.
So, a little background.
I will start the summary of where we are today with the NC Geological Survey information circular #36 that was shared with the General Assembly. The document mentions the geological formations in the state most likely to contain hydrocarbons, with the most likely to lie in the Durham-Sanford sub-basin underlying Lee County and parts of Chatham and Moore Counties.
The NC General Assembly acted in June 2011 to pass House Bill 242 that charged DENR to study what the the regulatory framework should be if we were to permit fracking. The bill establishes a bond the must be paid by any party that would drill, sets a fee for each well with a base rate plus a rate per foot drilled, and places responsibility on gas developer for compensation for damages. Along side DENR, the NC Department of Commerce is charged with reviewing the economic impacts of permitting gas and oil extraction and RAFI is reviewing the potential legal and land use impacts on landowners.
The DENR study is under way. Check their website for the outline of the study and links to provide feedback, as well as background information. The draft study will be done in time to receive comments from the public at two public hearings: March 20th in Sanford and March 27th in Chapel Hill.
Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) has provided a letter with a list of concerns they have identified as part of the study.