Granville residents to commissioners: No fracking

Sep. 04, 2013 @ 08:59 PM

OXFORD — Granville County residents sent an emphatic message to commissioners Tuesday night.

They don’t want hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking.

Public comments followed a report submitted by Jason Falls, the county environmental programs director representing the Environmental Affairs Committee. The report recommended that the commissioners oppose hydraulic fracturing because of the negative impacts on the environment.

A study committee last week recommended using a 68-year-old rule that could force some North Carolina home owners to sell natural gas under their homes and farm land.

“I think we need to think twice about what we need to do to protect the residents of Granville County,” said Elaine McNeill of Stem.

She told commissioners this would be the first time a private industry would be allowed to extract resources from under land without the land owner’s permission.

Cuz Spirio, of Creedmoor, cited negative effects of fracking, such as water contamination and release of methane gas into the atmosphere and chemicals into the land.

Their comments were the norm among many.

The commissioners approved a motion supporting the committee’s recommendation to oppose fracking and instructed the staff to develop an appropriately worded resolution to that effect.

Timothy Karan was the only commissioner voting against the resolution.

In last week’s development, a study group created by the state Mining and Energy Commission recommended using a rarely used 1945 law for what’s called forced or compulsory pooling when permits are allowed for shale gas exploration, or fracking.

The recommendation next stops at the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It will have recommendations to two legislative panels by Oct. 1.

The General Assembly, which reconvenes in May, has final say on the rules.

According to an Associated Press story, forced pooling is designed to protect local residents from inadvertently having gas under their property siphoned away without receiving compensation and prevents neighbors from profiting for what’s under someone else’s land. Fracking opponents also are prevented from blocking the ability of their neighbors to sell their natural gas.

Granville County has some areas that could be affected. Most are within gas-rich Lee, Moore and Chatham counties to the southwest of the Triangle.

The recommendation is for at least 90 percent of acreage in a drilling area to be voluntarily leased before remaining property owners are forcibly pooled. Also requested are safeguards making property owners who were forced into pools immune from lawsuits against accidents or other damages.

The issue has drawn critics on both sides. Individuals are said to be able to shut down an industry. The gas industry is seen as shutting down personal freedoms.

In the recent session, the General Assembly directed state regulators to create rules for fracking and horizontal drilling by Oct. 1, 2014. Before permits can be issued, lawmakers would have to take future legislative action.

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