State environmental officials plan to test for the presence of significant natural gas deposits in seven Western North Carolina counties, a development that alarms environmentalists over the possibility of fracking in the mountains.
The N.C. General Assembly mandated the testing and allocated $550,000 over two years for the project statewide. The mountain counties where the samples will be collected are Clay, Cherokee, Macon, Graham, Swain, Jackson and Haywood.
If they decide to frack there, the drill rigs will be deployed in the valleys (low points), which is also where streams are born and form headwaters that flow into larger bodies. Not that Republicans in the General Assembly care about such things, but it needed to be said.
A city or county may not impose a franchise, privilege, license, income, or excise tax on the severing, production, treating, processing, ownership, sale, storage, purchase, marketing, or transportation on any energy minerals produced in the State, or upon the business of severing, producing, treating, processing, owning, selling, buying, storing, marketing, or transporting such energy minerals, or upon the ownership, operation, or maintenance of plants, facilities, machinery, pipelines, and gathering lines related to the severing, production, treating, processing, ownership, storage, sale, purchase, marketing, or transportation of energy minerals.
I won't go as far as to call this an omnibus, but there are enough changes from the previous versions that it should be discussed in-depth. And a little public notice might have removed the taint of deviousness.
Documents obtained by Greenpeace also reveal that the shale industry was close with one commissioner in particular: George Howard, the pro-fracking conservationist.
George Howard serves as vice chairman of the MEC, and as the chairman of the chemical disclosure committee, which is tasked with creating regulations for frack fluid and other fracking chemicals. He was appointed by North Carolina’s Senate President Pro-Tem Philip E. Berger to serve in one of two “conservation” slots on the MEC. Berger received $46,700 in campaign contributions from fracking interests between 2009 and 2011.
I really wish Phil Berger had decided to run for the US Senate. His corruption of the MEC by placing Howard in the "Conservationist" slot and all of the industry meddling that followed that appointment would have made for some exceptionally juicy campaign ads:
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