The following is a letter to the editor of the Sanford (NC) Herald earlier this month from one of its county commissioners expressing a need for a rational approach. I think he sums up the debate very nicely:
To the Editor:
I am surprised, but not concerned, that some municipalities have taken the initiative to oppose/outlaw fracking in order to send a signal to the N.C. General Assembly, and to the shale gas industry, that they will be vigorously opposed to any quick, ill-considered, late-night legislation that gives the green light to fracking in North Carolina before it is thoroughly researched and exposed for what it is and what it is not; discussed and debated in open public hearings and possibly decided by a statewide referendum before action is taken and legislation is crafted.
So, while I can see how this action may be seen as premature by some, it is not obviously to others. It is symbolic at this stage, showing that citizens, through their elected leaders at the local level, are concerned and willing to fight to protect their land and water from the perception and possible reality of predation on the local environment by the shale gas industry, especially after what has happened in Pennsylvania and other states where oil and gas companies have, in some well documented areas (not all), extracted the gas and left some land owners wealthier but the countryside used up and in ruins at public expense.
I am on the side of caution — taking whatever time is necessary to learn from and greatly improve
upon what other states have experienced and paid for, making every effort to understand this relatively new technology and whether it is something we want to open the door to in our beautiful state, which has always intelligently protected it natural resources.
While this could be a source of considerable new tax revenue to North Carolina, and royalties to land owners where shale gas is extracted, we must be prudent and wise and not rush into a new enterprise based on the disarming promise of new jobs and new revenues short term, decisions which could cost our citizens and environment dearly in the long run.
Lee County Commissioner