Fracking opponents dominate Chapel Hill hearing

We took the time to go to one of the only two public meetings about the recent DENR report on fracking for NC. It was held at East Chapel Hill High School. Thankfully, people opposed to fracking drastically outnumbered the supporters. The level of intelligence was through the roof when it came to speakers. Soil experts, doctors, even a former geologist who studied nuclear waste impacts: they all say DON'T DO IT.

But it was the folks who traveled here from fracking states that made the biggest statement about how bad things get...they're living a nightmare and they came to let us know about it. Really good turnout. Let's hope it helps when the state is deciding whether or not to lift the ban on fracking.

Check out the News & Observer article here



CHAPEL HILL -- Opponents of a controversial natural-gas drilling process called fracking dominated the conversation Tuesday evening at a public hearing in Chapel Hill that drew more than 600 people.

The critics cited concerns about potential water contamination, air pollution and damage to agriculture and tourism industries as they urged the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and state officials to take a step back and think about possible long-term damage.

Read more here:

Wow, that's a serious turnout.

I was listening to NPR on the way home and heard some state legislator saying he wants to pass a pro-fracking bill in May when they gavel in the short session. They come back into session officially on 5/16, so time is running out to win over legislators. There is also a mini-session (much like the one where they went after the teachers in an after-midnight meeting) on April 23rd. I wonder if they wont try to sneak something through then?

I was at the Rocky Mount Sierra Club meeting recently and heard from an expert talking about how bad some of these things are, and he said that it would be a real tragedy to surround the triangle, and area full of some of the best young minds in the world, in what he called a "crescent of pollution."

I got to work with some Sierra Club folks from Chicago and California recently who work on larger scale issues when I was in DC for a training, and they were talking about how much damage fracking has done elsewhere. It does make you worry about what will happen if they bring fracking to NC.

Storify and Tweets #ncfrack

It was a great crowd at last night's hearing. It was good to hear from the PA folks but I would've preferred more local voices since NC voters are more likely to have an impact on the #ncfrack decision.

The Chapel Hill Town Council joined their Carrboro colleagues and passed a last minute resolution opposing fracking.

Councillor Ed Harrison gave a welcomed shout out to OWASA (Orange Water/Sewer Authority) highlighting our (I'm on the Board) key fracking concerns.

Powering A Nation put together a summarized storify here:

There were a lot of realtime updates on Twitter under these hash tags: #ncfrack, #ncshalegas

Below is the OWASA letter to DENR:

SUBJECT: OWASA Comments on DENR’s Draft Report Titled North Carolina Oil and Gas Study under Session Law 2011-276

Dear Ms. Ozer:

Following are the Orange Water and Sewer Authority’s (OWASA) comments on the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) draft report titled North Carolina Oil and Gas Study under Session Law 2011-276. OWASA offers these comments as the steward of the Carrboro-Chapel Hill community’s water supply, drinking water, wastewater, and reclaimed water systems.

1. It appears from our review (that focused on the use and protection of surface and ground water resources) that DENR has concluded that hydraulic fracturing can be safely accomplished with proper regulatory oversight, but we noted that there are a number of statements in the report that seem to contradict, but certainly do not lead to, the stated conclusion.

2. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting an extensive study of the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The technical research for that study is scheduled to be completed in 2012, and the study report is expected to be issued in 2014. We believe the EPA’s report will provide useful information regarding the protection of water resources as it pertains shale gas extraction.

3. We believe that Recommendation 2 in the DENR report should be revised to state “Require oil and gas operators to prepare and have a DENR-approved Water and Wastewater Management Plan…” The study does not provide sufficient information to conclude that there are proven, effective, and sustainable strategies for the treatment and disposal of wastewater resulting from shale gas extraction.

4. We strongly concur with Recommendation 7 that states North Carolina should require full disclosure of hydraulic fracturing chemicals and constituents. OWASA owns and operates an advanced wastewater treatment and reclaimed water system that that must comply with strict environmental standards. In the absence of full disclosure of the types and concentrations of contaminants in fracking wastewater, and in the absence of a technical evaluation of the ability of our facility to treat fracking wastes and maintain compliance with applicable standards, we will not consider accepting fracking wastes for treatment at our facility.

5. We strongly concur with Recommendations 11 and 12 that North Carolina needs a modern, complete regulatory program for oil and gas management, and that such a program be housed within DENR. Thank you very much for your consideration of our comments.

Please contact Ed Kerwin, Executive Director, at (919-537-4211) if you have questions regarding our comments.

there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. MLK,Jr. to SCLC Leadership Class

It was a great crowd

Unfortunately I'm afraid the fix is in. The DENR report's conclusions were clearly politically dictated.

The only candidate for governor unequivocally opposed to fracking is Bill Faison - barring something I don't know about him coming to light, he's got my vote in the primary. I went up to him last night after the hearing, introduced myself, and thanked him for his stance.

So we have our work cut out for us. (btw I was the fourth speaker - the one who works at EPA, though I am obliged to say I was not speaking for EPA, but just for myself as a local Orange County citizen).

thank you...

I remember you & just want to say thank you so much for speaking. Folks like you are the reason we stand a chance to fight dismal as the outcome may seem. We have to keep speaking up.