To that end, the grant would have allowed North Carolina to develop a network of sites to test streams and survey wildlife before and after fracking occurs. The “before” is critical – having a thorough baseline of data would help the state better document issues that might be linked to fracking.
What will happen instead? Division of Water Resources director Tom Reeder says there still will be testing at fracking sites, because N.C. law requires it. But the law, which was drawn up by a Republican-led legislature, doesn’t require the thoroughness of testing that the EPA grant would have provided. In fact, the law even lets the testing be done by the companies that will perform the fracking. That’s not the kind of comfort we have in mind.
I actually heard Tom Reeder say that drillers would do testing before fracking begins, in a News14 story in the last few days. Trying to find it now, and will update diary when I do. Until then, here are a few questions for lawmakers: are you going to let potential Welfare recipients drug test themselves at home, and trust their findings afterward? Is the NC Bar going to allow aspiring attorneys to take the Bar exam at home, and tell you if they passed? Why would you allow a company that could expose itself to millions in damage do their own baseline water quality testing? It defies logic.
Saying they don’t need the money to meet their new mission, state environmental officials recently turned down almost $600,000 in federal grants. The money would have been used to set up a network of sites to begin testing streams in the Piedmont where natural gas production is likely to occur and to establish a long-term planning and monitoring program to protect wetlands.
It’s the first time a state in EPA's Southeast region has refused a grant since the program started in 1996, an agency spokesperson in Atlanta said. North Carolina could be the only state in the country to ever decline the grants.
Collecting and analyzing baseline water quality data in areas that are likely to be fracked is one of the top priorities recommended by scientists from Duke University, who recently conducted an in-depth study of contaminated wells in Pennsylvania. Without that pre-fracking baseline, it's more difficult to differentiate between new contamination from human activities and possible naturally-occurring phenomenon. Which could explain why this money was refused; to give the frackers an "out" when our wells start going bad, like they have everywhere else. And there's always this:
The state’s Compulsory Pooling Study Group is set to debate forced pooling Wednesday in Raleigh with the intent of making recommendations to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The study group’s conclusions will be reported to the Mining and Energy Commission, but the commission will not hold hearings on it or take a vote. Wednesday’s discussion by the study group is likely to be the last public discussion of the issue before it gets to the legislature, said the group’s chairman Ray Covington, who is also a Mining and Energy commissioner.
And he's also got a lot of land he wants fracked, his own and that of his clientele:
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