Two North Carolina Senate committees unanimously voted on Tuesday to approve a law that will see the ban on fracking lifted in summer. The bill is expected to be tabled before the Senate this week.
The bill will see the ban on shale gas drilling lifted on July 1, 2015, potentially paving the way for the Department of Environment and Natural Protection to award permits to energy firms for horizontal drilling and fracking, reported the News & Observer.
The move was welcomed by pro-fracking activists who argue that the method boosts local economy and creates thousands of jobs. However, environmentalists argue that the measure goes against the promise not to remove the fracking moratorium until the necessary safety regulations are in place.
This is the second time that the state is attempting to remove the moratorium, after an earlier bid to remove it collapsed in the NC House after the public opposed the move, forcing lawmakers to promise that they will not remove the moratorium until the necessary rules and laws were in place.
The bill was approved by the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee. The bill was forwarded to the Senate Rules Committee for a debate tomorrow and Thursday, before being tabled before the House for a hearing.
Republican Sen. Buck Newton was quoted as saying that the energy companies are waiting to see whether North Carolina is committed to shale gas exploitation, and that he expects drilling to begin in mid-2015.
“We are not sure the industry will be anywhere near ready to go at that time,” Newton said. “The industry hasn’t explored here yet because we haven’t finished what we’re doing now.”
The bill made several adjustments in order to attract energy firms, such as lower severance taxes and a much more favorable baseline water testing rule. To register for a free 2-week subscription to ForexMinute Premium Plan, visit www.forexminute.com/newsletter.
To contact the reporter of this story; Jonathan Millet at firstname.lastname@example.org