Conflicts of interest abound in NC Fracking "regulation"

Starting with the suppression of local government:

Before adjourning their session last week, North Carolina lawmakers passed a law prohibiting towns, cities and counties from adopting any regulations or ordinances on natural gas drilling or the controversial practice commonly known as fracking.

The provision appears to have put the kibosh on efforts by the city of Sanford and the Lee County commissioners, who had wanted to consider additional regulations of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

For those who have been following this issue closely, it will come as no surprise that Lee County is the epicenter of this legal earthquake. Between coal ash dumps and being in the crosshairs of frackers due to likely shale deposits, citizens are understandably concerned. But it's also home to a small group of influential pro-frackers determined to enrich themselves and their friends, no matter the environmental cost:

No respite for weary environmental advocates

A real shift in public opinion or wishful thinking?

In recent elections, North Carolina voters have teetered between red and blue. But the only green in the mix was the color of money, not environmental concern - or even basic awareness.

This state has the gift of a magnificent natural environment, but most voters take it for granted, seldom worrying about issues like water or air quality. That may be changing. Environmental issues have become serious political issues, especially in the past year.

The operative word there is "may" be changing, but I believe even that is a reach. Yes, there have been some high-profile environmental problems that surfaced (or leaked just below the surface) in the past year and a half, but it doesn't automatically follow that a larger chunk of the public has become concerned. I've watched these numbers since 2007, and the percentage of people who list the environment as their top issue has remained around 3 percent, just like in this Gallup poll covering 2015. Yes, that's a national poll and not targeted on NC voters, but it is hard numbers vs speculation of what should happen:


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