Hydraulic fracturing – a mining technique that lets excavators tap hard-to-reach reservoirs of natural gas – has generated cautious support so far from Duke University, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and state leaders.
The processs, nicknamed “fracking,” holds great potential for natural gas supplies and the creation of jobs that come with that industry. But environmentalists warn that the process can pose risks to water supplies and nearby residents.
The cautious approval from experts at Duke and DENR offer some peace of mind, but few can blame commissioners in Lee County for taking a responsible approach to the concept. Lee is one of the counties that could be the site of fracking.
Commissioners there are excited about the possibility of new jobs and a boost to their economy. But in a resolution they passed this week, they also called for new regulations and a new oversight authority if the N.C. General Assembly moves to allow the practice.
Most reasonable-minded folks would share their view.
If legislators follow Lee County’s lead, though, we would urge caution about the makeup of such an authority. In some cases, such boards become loaded with representatives of the industry.
Those folks might be experts on mining, but would they be champions for the interests of the public at-large, as well?
The potential of hydraulic fracturing will continue to generate discussion among state leaders and counties this spring. With important, clear-eyed regulation, fracking can boost North Carolina’s economy and pose little risk to its quality of life.