Fracking bill passes 1st vote in NC House - WNCN: News, Weather

Fracking bill passes 1st vote in NC House

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

The North Carolina Senate’s fracking bill sailed into the House on Wednesday, sparking an intense debate before passing its first vote, 63-52.

A final vote is expected on Thursday. Fracking is the process of getting natural gas from underground through a process called hydraulic fracturing.

Supporters say it will help provide new sources of energy and jobs, while opponents raise questions about its long-term impact on the environment.

Rep. Grier Martin, a Democrat from Raleigh, raised emotional concerns about the chemicals that would be pumped into North Carolina's soil to release the natural gas. Speaking of his daughter, he said, "You want me to vote for a bill that is going to pump unnamed chemicals into her drinking water?"

He went on to say that the only recourse for citizens would be for her to go to a doctor after she got sick.

"Never," he said, closing his argument.

Another representative, Democrat Pricey Harrison from Guilford County, raised a number of concerns about the bill, including limiting local governments, dealing with fracking waste water, air pollution and infrastructure issues.

"We are giving away our resources as a cheap rate," she said. "This is a really bad and irresponsible bill."

But the bill had strong supporters, with Republicans saying the bill was three years in the making and a step toward making North Carolina, and the United States, energy dependent.

"Lee County, we need the jobs," said one Republican, Mike Stone of Lee and Harnett counties. Stone said the North Carolina law would combine the best of the laws allowing fracking in other states.

"We've been very cautious in doing it right."

Stone, asked by Democrat Larry Hall how many jobs it would mean for Lee County, did not give a direct number but said the jobs are both "direct and indirect."

"I think it is going to be a great opportunity for jobs in Lee County and North Carolina," he said.

Asked again by Hall how many jobs, Stone said, "That all depends on the number of wells we drill [and the time frame]."

Hall then said that identified the problem, and said he doubted how many jobs fracking would truly create.

"This whole speculation about jobs -- there is no estimate, there are just jobs out there in the ethernet somewhere," Hall said.

Rep. Rick Glazier, a Democrat from Cumberland, also pressed Stone on how many jobs would truly be created in North Carolina.

Stone said how many jobs would be created wouldn't be known until drilling began.

The comments from Hall and Glazier echoed concerns that fracking poses an environmental risk and doesn’t deliver many jobs for the state.

The fracking bill reached the floor of the full House after an earlier vote to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. The full House began debating the fracking bill at 4:30 p.m.

Initially, the House had a heated debate about whether to vote on the bill so quickly.

Rep. Tim Moore, a Republican from Cleveland County, said the debate Wednesday afternoon was about whether the full bill -- Senate Bill 786 -- would be voted on Wednesday.

Democrats raised concerns, saying the bill was being rushed through without giving the representatives and the public enough time to digest the bill.

Rep. Paul Luebke, a Democrat from Durham, rose right away, saying, "We have in Senate Bill 786 the fracking bill. It's one of the most important bills in the last couple of years."

Luebke said it was "simply inappropriate" for the House to debate the bill but others said the House had time to read over the issue.

The bill to add the fracking bill to the daily calendar for Wednesday passed, 66-50. It passed its first vote a few hours later.


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