Support House Bill 586: Ban Forced Pooling
The 1945 Oil and Gas Law makes “forced pooling” of landowners who don’t wish to lease their land for gas extraction legal in NC, but the law does not say when or how forced pooling can happen! So landowners can’t be sure that their property rights will be protected at all. The NC House of Representatives could begin debating House Bill 586
this week in the House Environment Committee
, but only if we urge them to do so!
The bill would ban forced pooling in North Carolina and take additional steps to protect landowners from unwanted activity on their property, now that the legislature has lifted the moratorium on fracking permits.
Please contact your Representative by Wednesday at noon to ask them to support House Bill 586! You can also ask your own County Commission Chairman to contact Representatives to ask for their support. Remember: this is not a bill to prevent fracking, so please don’t talk to your Representative as if it would. Instead, emphasize the importance of this bill to protect landowner rights.
Want to learn more about forced pooling? Watch this 10 minute video Forced Pooling 101, by the Rural Advancement Foundation International. Encourage your legislators to watch it too!
Passing House Bill 586 would solve the problem and ban forced pooling in North Carolina!
Comments are due to FERC by April 28th!
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a proposed new pipeline to transport gas from fracked areas in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is the agency responsible for granting the pipeline the right to begin construction and use eminent domain. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is currently in a “scoping period” where FERC determines the “scope of work” for creating an Environmental Impact Statement. During this period, it is important to raise every question or concern that people have about the pipeline.
-negative impacts the pipeline might have to your or your neighbor’s properties, if applicable.
-negative impacts to the region, such as increased risks of accidents, impacts on air quality, noise pollution.
-request that FERC assess the cumulative impacts of all existing and proposed pipelines in the region, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Transco pipeline, and their related infrastructure such as compressor stations.
-increased extraction and fracking in upstream communities.
-investing in infrastructure for fossil fuels will delay the transition to renewable energy.
-this pipeline, as well as the entire pipeline system, is contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change.
For more ideas on what to comment on, go here.
Comment to FERC by April 28th by clicking here. Be sure to use the correct Docket Number: PF15-6
I traveled in March to Greene, Washington and Butler Counties in southwest PA to do research, stopping in Pittsburgh to attend a conference on the impacts of extraction industries. Wow! Once I crossed the border into Pennsylvania, I knew something had changed. Immediately, I saw billboards from Range Resources or Rice Energy promoting shale gas jobs and benefits.
Nicole’s photo of a drill rig in the Pennsylvania landscape.
When I left the highway, I was bombarded with compressor stations, pipeline construction and well pads. Even though I knew these counties have lots of wells and drilling, actually seeing it with my own eyes was shocking. Except for the gas development, these areas look just like parts of NC, with smaller, rolling hills, but the landscape feels like NC’s Appalachian region. There are small towns, the roads are winding, and there are lots of beautiful farms and cattle operations. The promises of wealth that the industry touts were not in view, however, with lots of dilapidated homes in sight.
The Center for Coalfield Justice and the Izaak Walton League Harry Enstrom chapter work extensively with citizens who are experiencing impacts from shale gas fracking as well as longwall coal mining, which has a long history in the region. Gas drilling is just the latest in a stream of extractive industries impacting the region, with valleys filled with coal mining refuse and water quality degraded by acid mine drainage. Most of Greene and Washington Counties have underground coal mining, with the largest coal preparation plant in North America on 3000 acres. As I drove around, the truck traffic was heavy and the little hamlets were abuzz with noise. We saw a school right across from a fracking well pad. It was actually heartbreaking and also inspiring to talk to those living and working to fight this development.
A billboard in southwest Pennsylvania; photo by Nicole Delcogliano.
The Connoquenessing Township in Butler County, north of Pittsburgh, has active wells and new pipeline construction. I attended a community meeting designed to educate community members about their rights as landowners, as pipelines are being constructed, and to hear community members speak about impacts they were experiencing from well drilling. It was right out of Gasland, with one older gentleman bringing samples of his fouled spring water from pipeline construction, saying he hoped it would clear up. Community members were confused and bewildered as they learned about potential impacts and tried to understand their rights (or lack thereof) in facing eminent domain.
I interviewed members of Marcellus Outreach Butler, Section 27 and Mars Parent group, all active in Butler County’s anti-fracking movement. As they shared their stories, I was so impressed by the time and energy they dedicate to keeping their community’s residents, air and water safe. It takes a lot to combat a large industry with deep pockets, but by working at the local level they are making progress.
A Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in late 2013 reinstates the ability of local governments to use zoning and planning to protect residential areas from industrial activity. As in NC, many rural areas in PA do not have ordinances or zoning, so are working to develop them now. There is a deep sense that government and regulatory agencies are not working for the best interests of citizens, and that residents must work to hold the government accountable to its public duties.
While shocking, my experiences inspired me to share what groups and citizens have done already to resist fracking in PA with folks in NC who are working to prevent fracking from happening here!
Offshore drilling comments due Monday, March 30
Offshore oil and gas drilling? Make your voice heard!
Offshore drilling proposed for the mid-Atlantic would put the NC coast at risk for an environmental disaster like the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. It could harm tourism, fishing, and other coastal industries which are the economic backbone of coastal communities. Regulations haven’t changed since the BP Disaster — there is still the same weak oversight and safeguards.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement to examine the impacts of drilling off the NC coast. YOUR COMMENTS can make a difference! Comments are due Monday, March 30th. Some points you can make:
- More scientific study is urgently needed to understand the impacts offshore drilling could have on the NC coast before any permitting is considered!
- We need to evaluate the impact of an oil spill contaminating NC beaches and estuaries, and on fish and other wildlife living in the potential drilling areas.
- The Environmental Impact Statement must also look at the economic impacts offshore drilling would have on socioeconomically vulnerable coastal communities, learning from the tragic example of Gulf communities after the BP Disaster!
To submit your comments online, go to http://regulations.gov. In the search tab, type in Docket ID: Boem-2014-0085, then click on the “Comment Now!” button.
Tell your state legislators you support clean energy!
“Free” North Carolina from fracking with the power of the sun!
There ARE alternatives to fracked gas, but we need policies in North Carolina to support them! House Bill 245, which has rare bipartisan support in the General Assembly, would allow “third party” sales of electricity, promoting rooftop solar panels and allowing all households to cheaply generate their own energy without having to buy it from Duke Energy!
Find your representative’s contact info here and ask them to support House Bill 245, the “Energy Freedom Act,” to help “free” North Carolinians from fracking and other costly, water-intensive fossil fuels.
On this first day of the lifted moratorium on fracking, our movement can celebrate that we have helped hold off the rush until the big drop in gas prices makes early permitting less likely here in North Carolina! With each horizontal well costing millions to install, our state’s modest to meager resources and gas at the lowest prices in decades, it’s likely that even wildcat drillers aren’t lining up to make big investments.
North Carolina’s regulations, despite being too weak to protect our water, air and communities, ARE stronger than they would have been without the involvement of the tens of thousands of folks who testified, wrote comments and contacted legislators. NOW is the time to connect with local Frack Free NC groups and the statewide Alliance to strategize for resistance, monitoring and building awareness in communities just waking up. Don’t just wear the green today—LIVE the green for our communities and state! Help us give this industry the “welcome” it deserves.
In mid-February, state lawmakers introduced House Bill 76 (and its twin, Senate Bill 72), “Disapprove MEC Oil and Gas Rules,” formally recognizing that the rules on hydraulic fracturing approved by the Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) are woefully inadequate to protect NC’s environment and communities. The sponsors of the House bill include Representatives Robert Reives II and Brad Salmon of Lee County, where fracking is most likely to begin, as well as Representatives Susan Fisher and Pricey Harrison. These lawmakers understand that the MEC rules are lacking in safe setback distances from homes and water sources, environmental testing, and disposal of fracking wastewater, and that allowing fracking to begin with such weak rules in place would endanger the people and resources of our state.
While the sponsors of H76 acknowledge that the odds of the bill passing are small, they felt it was important to file this legislation as a statement that the MEC has not served the best interests of the residents of Lee and Chatham Counties or other areas that could be impacted by fracking. You can contact the Chairmen of the House Commerce and Jobs Committee to tell them you and many friends in your area believe there’s strong evidence that fracking is bad for NC’s communities and economy, and encourage them to schedule a hearing on the bill soon: Rep. Conrad, Rep. Presnell and Rep. Ross.
If your NC Representative or Senator is among the sponsors of House Bill 76 (list of sponsors) or Senate Bill 72 (list of sponsors), we encourage you to send them a short email to thank them for their action to protect NC from fracking!
Here’s a link to coverage in the Sanford Herald at the time the bills were filed.
Frack Free NC Alliance partners came out despite the cold on Saturday, February 14, joining many other folks to call for Environmental Justice, Economic Justice, Voting Rights, Health Justice and more! Here are a few photos of creative signs tying our environmental passions to the wider social justice and democracy that we seek. (Photo credits: Karen Bearden and Martha Girolami).
Click each photo to see the full-size image!
Historic Thousands on Jones St. (“HKonJ”) 2015
Saturday, February 14, Raleigh
Meet at 9AM across from Raleigh Memorial Auditorium on South St.
March begins at 10 AM, Rally will be near the State Capital on Fayetteville St.
Environmental/Justice/Labor contingent –meet at 8:45AM (note earlier time) at the corner of Wilmington St. & Cabarrus St. Wear blue, green and/or yellow.
Forward together – not one step back! Frack Free NC partners will join in the 9th annual HKonJ mass rally this February.
Many Frack Free NC partners already plan to join with the NAACP of NC, more than a hundred “HKonJ” partner groups, and tens of thousands of other folks from across the state on Saturday, Feb. 14 to call for Environmental Justice, Economic Justice, Voting Rights, Health Justice and more. We hope you will join us, too!
Dress warmly, bring friends, and, if you can, carry signs that tie our environmental passions to the wider social justice and democracy that we seek. More information will be posted on this site soon, or visit http://www.hkonj.com.
Buses are leaving from multiple NC locations - click here to find one near you!
View a short video about marching for environmental justice!
Sally Morgan, CWFNC Energy and Environmental Justice Researcher/Organizer
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is at odds with the Mining and Energy Commission, but not over fracking. NCDOT says it wants to work with the industry to ensure that NC’s transportation infrastructure can “serve the industry’s needs.” What they disagree about is how to make sure the industry pays for resulting road repair costs. And with 1,600 truck trips estimated for a single fracked well, damage to roads is no trivial matter.
If fracking comes to North Carolina, much of it would occur in rural areas, where roads are not designed to support heavy industrial trucks. In states where fracking is rampant, the cost of road repair often outweighs state income from fracking, in some cases by billions of dollars. According to reviews of state records by the Energy Policy Forum, Pennsylvania collected $204 million in impact fees in 2012 (they don’t have a severance tax), but road damage topped $3.5 billion! Since 2009, Arkansas received $182 million in gas severance taxes, but estimates road damage cost $450 million.
The NCDOT studied Plank Road in western Lee County, with a bridge crossing the Deep River, as a likely route for fracking trucks. This bridge alone needs $1.3 million in upgrades to handle heavy trucks. Who should pay for this? The NCDOT is funded largely from state taxes on gasoline, vehicle registration fees and the like. It’s essential that the road repair costs be paid for by the industry causing the damage, and reaping any profit. One option to recoup the costs is through “severance taxes” (percent of proceeds) on the gas extracted. However, between the small estimates of recoverable gas, and the delay in production (likely several years after initial well pad construction), NCDOT ruled this option out. NC state severance tax rates are among the lowest in the nation, and it’s unlikely they will be raised. Most other states have shown that severance taxes aren’t enough to cover road damage from fracking operations, and have had to implement additional “road use agreements” with industry.
The NCDOT is proposing another option to ensure the industry pays for most road repairs, and returns the roads to original condition after use. A “Road Management Use Agreement” (RUMA), holds the industry responsible for maintaining designated haul routes, and for posting a bond amount that is 60% of the average expected costs for repair. NCDOT studied options for two years, including other states’ approaches, and concluded that the RUMA is by far the best available approach. Unfortunately, despite inclusion of the RUMA in early drafts of the MEC’s fracking rules, this recommendation was left out of the final rules submitted to the legislature. Now the NCDOT has to ask the legislature for authority to request a RUMA.
We know the people of North Carolina should not have to pay for costs resulting from the fracking industry; but with the meager protections proposed by the Mining and Energy Commission, that appears to be a likely risk. The public cost of road damage compared to the paltry state revenue from our small gas reserves raises yet another question among a host of others, about the economic feasibility of fracking in NC.
The EPA’s proposed “Clean Power Plan” creates emission guidelines for states that address greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The goal is to lower emissions of carbon dioxide, and thus reduce the effects of climate change. Unfortunately, the proposed Clean Power Plan has some serious flaws that may make it do more harm than good when it comes to the climate, and actually serve to incentivize fracking.
The EPA is accepting comments on the Clean Power Plan through December 1st . Click here to see Clean Water for NC’s comments, and feel free to borrow from them! While it’s critical to express our support for the intent of the rules, they need to be more effective to prevent climate change and to prevent incentivising fracking for natural gas.
To comment on the rule, send by email by Dec. 1 to:
A-and-R-Docket@epa.gov. Include docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602 in the subject line of the message