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Ban "Fracking" for Gas in NC

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We, the signers of this petition, based on review of scientific research and the consequences of gas extraction practices in other states, believe that the state of NC should maintain a ban on high pressure hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. The process of extraction of natural gas has been shown to cause harm to residents, natural resources and communities where the process has occurred across the US and worldwide. We call on the NC General Assembly, the Governor and the Environmental Management Commission to maintain or strengthen current regulatory protections that prevent “fracking” in NC for the following reasons:

1. Multiple federal environmental exemptions exist for the oil and gas industry, as a result of the 2005 Energy Policy Act (the “Halliburton Loophole”), severely limiting federal authority to implement protections and enforcement.

2. Fracking’s impacts have not yet been adequately studied. A current study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency omits important research findings from the past 25 years, focuses only on deliberate and intentional use of water in the fracking process itself rather than considering other impacts to drinking water from critical steps in the extraction process, and won’t produce final results until at least 2014.

3. The peer-reviewed research that does exist provides evidence that fracking operations may cause: 1) a larger greenhouse gas footprint than the same fuel value of coal1, 2) significant damaging economic and social effects on nearby communities2, and 3) methane contamination of drinking water wells3, indicating that the negative impacts may outweigh any benefits of natural gas extraction by this method.

4. Statewide regulations are currently in place to protect our state’s groundwater as future drinking water, and they should not be compromised or discarded simply based on short-sighted and exaggerated projections about any economic benefits to local communities or the state.

Our major concerns include:

1. Depletion of local water resources and numerous impacts to surface water quality;

2. Contamination of drinking water wells and groundwater with natural gas, VOCs, and radioactive substances;

3. Severe air contamination leading to respiratory health and neurological impacts;

4. Increased burdens on existing public wastewater plants from contaminated fracking wastewater;

5. Damage to surface buildings, roads, and other infrastructure; noise and light pollution, and high volumes of truck traffic;

6. Fire and explosion hazards, and risk of seismic activity in areas of deep injection of wastewaters;

7. Socioeconomic impacts including increased rates of crime, weakened social and community bonds, impacts of transient workforce, increased impacts on judicial system and other government services, unemployment rates, decreased property values, effects on median household incomes, and impacts on home sales.

We call on Governor Beverly Perdue, the North Carolina General Assembly, and the Environmental Management Commission to leave protective regulations in place and thus prevent fracking in North Carolina. NO action shall be taken to change these regulations until fracking technology has been demonstrated to have been implemented in highly similar formations with NO detections of shale contaminants (methane, VOCs, metals, radioactivity) or fracking fluid constituents in nearby drinking water wells, NO predatory leasing arrangements, NO damage to the local economy or well-being (including loss of diversification, stress on local government services and increased income disparity), and NO surface water or groundwater impacts due to land disturbance, storage or treatment of wastewaters.

The protection of residents, neighborhoods and the natural resources on which they depend constitutes the highest purpose of our state government. Local communities and regional entities must have the right to determine the best means of ensuring their rights as state residents to protect their health, safety and welfare. These rights must not be overridden by resource extraction corporations or their lobbyists claiming certain legal rights, or by a less protective state law (“pre-emption”).

1. Howarth, R., Santoro, R. and Ingraffea, A. 2011. Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations: A letter. Climatic Change.
DOI 10.1007/s10584-011-0061-5
2. Christopherson, S. 2011. The Economic Consequences of Marcellus Shale Gas Extraction: Key Issues. CaRDI Reports, Cornell University, Issue 14.
3. Osborn, S.G., Vengosh, A., Warner, N.R., and Jackson, R.B. 2011. Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 108:8172-8176.


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