McLaurin votes to keep fracking moratorium in place

* McLaurin: ‘Companies can extract natural gas
from your land if a majority of your neighbors approve it’

* Senate again votes to lift moratorium

Today, Sen. Gene McLaurin (D-Richmond) voted against Senate Bill 786, which would lift the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina.

Sen. Gene McLaurin

Sen. Gene McLaurin

In effect, the bill lifts the moratorium before the state legislature reviews and adopts rules and regulations. McLaurin tried to amend the bill to allow local cities and counties to weigh in on land use planning, transportation needs and public health issues, but the amendment failed 30-16.

However, the bill succeeded with a 36-11 vote despite McLaurin’s vote against it. According to The Charlotte Observer, the bill, named the Energy Modernization Act, would allow the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to start issuing drilling pemits on July 1, 2015. Under the current law, drilling permits can’t be issued until the legislature adopts safety rules to govern fracking.

McLaurin, who represents Anson, Scotland, Stanly, Richmond and part of Rowan counties, has heard from many residents across the district. One common theme has been, “If we are going to proceed with hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina, then take your time and get this right,” McLaurin conveyed.

This bill prohibits local governments from banning or restricting fracking, thus limiting their ability to protect residents from the impacts of fracking in any way.

“We should be reaching out to our local communities to determine their needs and concerns, to determine the unique impact on that particular community,” McLaurin said. “Instead, this bill prohibits their input. Property rights are not adequately addressed. Under this bill, companies can extract natural gas from your land if a majority of your neighbors approve it.”

McLaurin said, “Our work is not done. Without knowing what these rules will look like, I could not support the bill. We have the opportunity to put the right safeguards in place — to protect the public, our drinking water, our landowners and to be good stewards of the earth. The bottom line is that I want my grandchildren to grow up with clean drinking water. I want that for everyone in North Carolina. I’ve spent my entire career in the energy industry and I believe that hydraulic fracturing can help create jobs and move us towards energy independence. But I’m not willing to risk our drinking water or move forward irresponsibly until proper safeguards are put in place.”

Filed in: Latest Headlines, News

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