Fracking getting the greenlight around the U.S. – North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Illinois

While California is thinking about banning fracking, other states in the U.S. are working to greenlight the practice.  This involves either lifting existing bans, or enacting rules to ease the way for fracking operations, or even to criminalize discussion about fracking chemicals.

Anson County North Carolina has an existing ban on fracking.  A recent law proposed in the N.C. legislature would not only criminalize disclosure of fracking chemicals, making it a Class I felony to disclose those “trade secrets”, but it would invalidate any local ban on fracking.  Such as the ban in Anson County, as reported by the Anson Record.

That report quotes N.C. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger as saying that the Energy Modernization Act is “expected to help the state jumpstart a thriving new industry, attract thousands of well-paying jobs and push toward long-term energy independence.”

The bill, the Energy Modernization Act, Senate Bill 786, was sponsored by Sens. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg), Buck Newton (R-Wilson) and Andrew Brock (R-Davie). It passed the N.C. Senate by a vote of 47-35.  It’s heading to the N.C. House next.

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Energy Wire has more on the criminilization aspect of the bill.  The proposed law is described as having some aspects attractive to environmentalists, and was meant to smooth out a process being developed by state regulators.  Frackers are supposed to disclose information to the state, and make it available to emergency responders.  But all the state officials to whom the information is disclosed then must maintain confidentiality, hence the need to criminalize disclosure of trade secrets.  Supposedly.
In Pennsylvania, Gov. Corbett issued an executive order just before the Memorial Day weekend opening state forest and park land to frackers.  The frackers will be prohibited from disturbing the surface, allowing Corbett to spin this as environmental protection.
According to an Associated Press report, the order is facing lots of criticism. PennEnvironment called it a “horrible precedent” – “We have made it so easy to drill for natural gas on private land. It begs the question — is any place off-limits?”

John Hanger, who was state environmental protection secretary under former Gov. Ed Rendell, said “Corbett just does not understand that we cannot drill our way to prosperity, and we cannot drill our way to a balanced budget.” Hanger was running for Governor, but dropped out just before the Primary.

The Sierra Club calls the move Orwellian, to say the executive order protects the environment while it does the opposite.  Their post describes Pennsylvania’s state forests as an economic driver, and a storehouse of biodiversity, etc.
In Illinois a bill proposed by Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion; Southern Illinois) would greenlight fracking in Illinois for the southern and central portion of the state, while banning the practice in northern Illinois.  The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has spent a year developing rules for hydraulic fracturing, and some in industry are chafing at the bit to get going.  Bradley’s bill would skip all the rules making process, and just let fracking start.  Except for the ban in Northern Illinois, where there isn’t much shale potential anyway.
“On behalf of the industry, there’s been extreme disappointment that we’ve waited a year to get rules in place and then nothing. A state with high unemployment — there’s extreme frustration and almost anger that they haven’t moved faster to get rules in place so the industry can take off,” said Mark Denzler, vice president of Illinois Manufacturer’s Association, said to the Chicago Tribune.

The Associated Press quoted Jennifer Cassel, a staff attorney with the Environmental Law and Policy Center as saying “[the bill] does certainly appear to remove the authority of the Department of Natural Resources to adopt any rules, and move that authority to the Legislature to define how fracking is going to be carried out in Illinois.”  The Chicago Tribune quotes Barry Matchett, co-legislative director and policy advocate for the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center, saying “Our quick read is that this bill eliminates the rulemaking process and then proceeds to rewrite the entire bill. Just ridiculous.”

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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