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Fracking Fight Looms over North Carolina


natural gas fracking considered for north carolinaFracking – natural gas drilling that involves pumping chemical brine underground – has never caused any water contamination problems in North Carolina, but then again, there is no natural gas production in North Carolina (unless you count the hog farms). That’s all set to change, as both state legislators and property owners are already anticipating a mini natural gas gold rush. According to a report by TV station WRAL, property owners are already signing natural gas drilling leases in anticipation of getting the go-ahead from state legislators.

New Study Says No Fracking Problem – Or Not

As WRAL notes, North Carolina has a fracking study under way that is not due until next spring. Meanwhile, fracking advocates may take heart from a new study just announced by the University of Texas that appears to support their cause, except maybe not. Though introduced with a UT press release under the title “Early Results from Hydraulic Fracturing Study Show No Direct Link to Groundwater Contamination,” the study does in fact demonstrate numerous problems linked to “other aspects of drilling operations.”

Never Mind – Fracking Could Be a Problem

As the title of the University of Texas announcement does indicate, this is the first phase of a longer study. Still to be considered are some major issues such as the impact of gas emissions from fracking operations, and an analysis of reported groundwater contamination in parts of Texas, Louisiana, and elsewhere. The UT study will also look at impacts in the Marcellus shale region, which covers major population centers in New York, Pennsylvania, and several other states. If fracking advocates in North Carolina expect to find support for their cause from the University of Texas, they might find themselves on pretty shaky ground.

Fracking and the Gas Market Bubble

Going by the WRAL report, North Carolina state legislators are already anticipating a big economic boost from fracking. However, aside from the potential for significant environmental

impacts, financial analysts are already starting to question the soundness of the ongoing natural gas boom. If their predictions bear out, North Carolina could be in for a wild – and messy – ride.

Image credit: North Carolina dogwoods, some rights reserved by gregarch.

Twitter: @TinaMCasey

 
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Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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