Despite hundreds of calls from students and young people across North Carolina demanding a clean energy future, the N.C. Senate still passed Senate Bill 709, the Energy Jobs Act, by a vote of 38-12.
The bill poses a number of problems for our state’s environment. One of the worst issues is that it puts the state on a track towards legalizing “fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing, as a method of extraction in order to access the state’s untapped natural gas reserves. Geologists are estimating that “Lee, Chatham and Moore counties could produce enough natural gas from shale to make North Carolina self-sufficient for 40 years at current levels of consumption.”
As The Independent Weekly’s Lisa Sorg writes in her excellent in-depth article about why pursuing fracking is a mistake, SB 709 has a number of central functions that will negatively impact North Carolina’s direction on energy issues, rolling back decades of good environmental policy in our state.
- Renames the Energy Policy Council as the Energy Jobs Council and reconfigures its membership to include nearly all utilities and oil and gas industry representatives.
- Directs the governor to vigorously pursue off-shore drilling by forming compacts with neighboring states and petitioning the federal government to open areas of the Atlantic Ocean, including North Carolina’s offshore waters, to oil and gas exploration and drilling.
- Directs DENR to review existing state laws regarding fracking, analyze other states’ fracking regulations, recommend amendments to North Carolina laws that could allow fracking, study its environmental impacts and develop proposed regulatory framework for the practice.