Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Conservative rural North Carolina county says no to natural gas, despite a state push for industry

A rural Republican-led North Carolina county where President Obama performed poorly in the polls is saying no to natural gas operations, signaling what could be a changing atmosphere against drilling at the local level, despite a state push to welcome the industry, Mike Soraghan reports for EnergyWire. The all-Republican board of county commissioners in Stokes County (Wikipedia map) unanimously voted on Monday "to impose a three-year moratorium on natural gas exploration and production."

"Reports of water contamination in other areas have loomed large for people here, while the economic promise of production remains abstract," Soraghan writes. "Earthquakes are also a frequently stated concern, though the injection wells suspected of causing them are banned in the Tar Heel state." Ira Tilley, who describes himself as a Republican and a conservative, told the board before the vote, "Our God-given natural resources are all we have. What better way to send a signal to Raleigh than to pass this moratorium?"

Soraghan writes, "Similar concerns about water and contamination have already led to a moratorium in one of two counties, Chatham, considered to have the best prospects for producing gas in the state. Commissioners in the other county, Lee, recently voted to consider a moratorium. Both counties are in the eastern half of the state, near Raleigh."

The moratorium "prevents Stokes County officials from issuing zoning permits related to oil and gas development for three years," Soraghan writes. "County officials say they would use that time to review whether there are sufficient protections for the environment and people living near prospective drilling sites. But if industry interest were to perk up and the state resolved its jurisdictional issues, the county-level efforts to delay drilling would likely come under legal attack. State oil and gas commissioners have questioned whether county moratoriums are allowed under state laws that give most authority over drilling to the state." (Read more)

No comments: