Fracking, Round 2

There are two questions I get most often from people when they learn that I’m a member of Cary Town Council.

  1. How much time does it take? (I haven’t figured that out, yet.)
  2. How different is working on council than in the private sector? Now that’s a harder question. 

Normally, my answer is that I’m surprised how much longer things take in the Public Sector.  Not because there aren’t good people – in fact, quite the opposite.  But, if you can imagine doing your whole job, where just about every decision you make is out in the open, that just takes more time.  Also, because you and I and all citizens have the right to ask questions, provide feedback and input, and need to be informed – that can lengthen the process.

My First Request
So, when I pink-slipped an item during my first council meeting requesting that staff review what actions the town might take regarding hydraulic fracturing, (also known as “fracking”) within the Town of Cary and/or ETJ, I knew it would take awhile.  The request required input from the Environmental Advisory Board and the Economic Development Commission, and of course, staff.  Their involvement and feedback is a valuable component of moving forward.
(I wrote more about this in an earlier blog post.)
There is also a sense of urgency with this request, considering that the General Assembly is continuing to look at this issue.

 

Progress!

At tonight’s work session, I’m thrilled that we are taking one of the first steps to do what we can to protect Cary citizens’ high quality of life, our environment, and our natural resources for ourselves and our children.

Our council unanimously put forward the following item as part of our legislative agenda:
Preserve local interests when developing regulatory framework for shale gas development
As well as a draft resolution:

RESOLUTION OF THE TOWN OF CARY NORTH CAROLINA

DRAFT

Whereas,  the North Carolina Geological Survey has concluded that a commercially viable reserve of natural gas may underlie parts of North Carolina, possibly including areas within Cary’s corporate limits and extra-territorial jurisdiction; and

Whereas,  a number of factors, including increased interest in developing new energy sources, access to existing natural gas pipelines in the area, and energy demand from nearby industries and utilities could make this potential gas reserve a target for exploration and development; and

Whereas,  North Carolina’s laws  regulating oil and gas exploration and production (Article 27, G.S. 113-378 through 113-423) are dated and do not address the technologies commonly used in shale gas exploration and production, such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing; and

Whereas, Session Law 2011-276 (House Bill 242) directs DENR to study the issue of oil and gas exploration in the state, and to specifically focus on the use of directional and horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for that purpose and Senate Bill 709 would, if it becomes law, direct DENR to provide a comprehensive report that outlines the commercial potential of shale gas resources within the state as well as the regulatory framework necessary to develop this resource; and

Whereas, while development of this resource could be an economic benefit to North Carolina, other states have found that shale gas production also has impacts that need to be carefully managed;

Whereas, the possible environmental impacts of shale gas exploration include the effects of the use of high volumes of water during drilling; potential contamination of groundwater aquifers by chemicals, water or wastewater during drilling or hydraulic fracturing of the shale layers; clearing of access roads and the drilling area; and storage of chemicals used in the process; and

Whereas, the state of North Carolina and the Town of Cary enjoy outstanding quality of life and the Town seeks to preserve that quality of life regarding environmental quality, environmental health, and economic opportunities; and

Now Therefore Be it Resolved by the Town Council of the Town of Cary that any further legislative and regulatory activity of the North Carolina General Assembly related to shale gas development proceed in a thoughtful and deliberative manner, that it preserve local governments’ abilities to determine appropriate land use planning related to potential locations of oil and gas activities, that the full impacts on regulatory requirements, economic development, the environment, social aspects affecting communities, and local government services be better understood as represented in the forthcoming DENR report and the February 2012 STRONGER report prior to implementing a new oil and gas program, and that sufficient public input opportunities be provided for any policy and rule making processes.

 This is a first step – and an opportunity to give our state representatives and leaders insight into what’s important for our town and it’s citizens.

One Response to Fracking, Round 2
  1. Lori Bush Reply

    Quick update: I gave the following comments at the 4/2/12 Public Hearing on Fracking in Pittsboro.

    Hello, my name is Lori Bush, and I am an At-Large Council member of the Cary Town Council.

    Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback regarding the potential lift of our state’s ban on hydraulic fracturing.

    I’ve come here today to provide 2 viewpoints.

    My Own. And the Unanimous position of our 7 members of the Cary Town Council.

    Cary is a thriving community of more than 140,000 people, close to the triangle, and home to businesses and families. We have a diverse population, a growing retirement age community, and a long list of parks and greenways. We, and our neighboring communities depend on Jordan Lake as our primary source of drinking water .

    At the Town of Cary – we are, and have been, committed to the environment by protecting and preserving open space and our water conservation programs. We’ve hired a sustainability manager to help us lead by example – continually making investments to ensure the high quality of life of our citizens, while we pay close attention to ensuring our environmental stewardship and protecting our natural resources for our community.

    2 weeks ago, our town council members UNANIMOUSLY agreed to a position of legislative advocacy, and resolution concerning Shale Gas development.

    The Town of Cary requests that ANY FURTHER legislative and regulatory activity of the NC General Assembly related to shale gas development proceed in a deliberate and thoughtful manner and to PRESERVE local government’s abilities to determine appropriate land use planning related to potential locations of oil and gas activities. While development of this resource could be an economic benefit to NC, other states have found that shale gas production has many impacts that need to be carefully managed – such as the possible environmental impact of using high volumes of water during drilling, (especially during the drought conditions that we have weathered in the past) the potential contamination of ground water aquifers by chemicals, the clearing of access roads, and the storage of chemicals used in the process.

    Personally, I would also like to comment on this issue. Soon after I became a council member, I started a blog. One of my first posts detailed a 1-day seminar on the issues surrounding “fracking” – with speakers from both sides of the issue presenting. I received a comment on the blog from a woman who LED a coalition of Homeowners in the Barnett Shale area that consisted of 5200 families, business & houses of worship – and resulted in a huge deal and 18-page lease. After 3 years of living with wells in their community, she has learned a great deal, and has many regrets. Their air quality suffered, and many homeowners were forced to leave their homes due to the smell of gas, their wells were tapped dry of water, and many landowners cannot sell their property, while others are finding toxins showing up in their blood and urine. And, most importantly, as I mentioned before, without local ordinances in place, for set-backs, noise, light and traffic restrictions, some wells were fracked at 2am, and kept local homeowners up at night.

    Please, allow our local municipalities the ability to do what we do best: protect and serve our citizens in the best way we know how, through local government authority.
    Thank you.

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