The natural gas pipeline system is all around us, connecting our homes, businesses, and increasingly, our power supply, to the production, processing and transportation side of the industry. But people frequently don’t understand the risks associated with the natural gas pipeline system, or what to do if a pipeline company wants to put one through your land. A new report by Clean Water for NC Natural Gas Pipelines: Regulation and Risk for North Carolina, aims at de-mystifying the pipeline system, its regulation and opportunities for involvement by potentially impacted residents and the general public.
Map of Natural Gas Pipelines in the US. Source: Energy Information Administration
In the case of the newly proposed Dominion Atlantic Coast Pipeline, residents and affected landowners should participate in the process to the full extent possible. The report outlines steps along the way the public can take. Companies must be held responsible for protection of the public they are serving; so all regulatory, construction and route-selection processes must be transparent and include the public from the start. Belinda Joyner, Clean Water for NC’s Northeastern Organizer, based in Garysburg, near the proposed pipeline, attended one of Dominion’s “open house” sessions this week. “The Dominion staff were so eager to be reassuring about pipeline safety, compressor stations and other impacts, that it’s clear the public will need to keep digging to get forthright answers. We’ll make sure the word gets out widely before the next set of public meetings early in 2015.”
A main conclusion in the report is that during the construction of new facilities and infrastructure for natural gas, detailed environmental assessments and public input must be included in the process, in order to reduce or avoid environmental and community impacts, and increase safety through public awareness of the presence of pipelines. Where service areas have been established by a long-standing “certificates of convenience and necessity,” gas companies must be required to file plans for pipeline construction with state Utility Commission officials and notify all parties and local governments potentially impacted.
The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources is now accepting written comments on the 120 rules proposed to regulate fracking. The public comment period is open until September 30.
Send written comments to the Mining & Energy Commission:
ATTN: Oil and Gas Program
1612 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1612
or email to Oil&Gas@ncdenr.gov.
Click here to view the draft rules.
Click here for a 1 page factsheet on the draft rules.
To find key parts of the Draft Oil and Gas Rules that you might want to comment on:
Our FrackFree NC review team chose 7 draft rules of greatest interest. Click on each topic to download some brief bullet points about problems we’ve identified, or click on “Bullet points for all 7 draft rules” to see them all. We will add key problems with draft rules as our review continues, as well as key points on issues related to, but not directly dealt with, by the draft rules. As always, all comments should be in your own words. Thanks for caring enough to comment to protect our communities!
“Enforcement and Inspections”
“Set Back Distances”
“Chemical Disclosure and Trade Secrets”
“Baseline Water Supply Testing”
“Water Acquisition and Management”
“Exploration and Production Waste Management”
“Bonding and Financial Assurance”
Here are some bullet points on “Need For Air Quality Rules“, something thing the MEC’s Draft Rules completely ignores.
Bullet points for all 7 draft rules
The Mining and Energy Commission recently had 4 Public Hearings on the Draft Fracking Rules. An estimated 1800 people attended these hearings, and an overwhelming majority were opposed to fracking in NC. Around 340 delivered oral comments, many of which were thoughtful and substantial critiques of specific fracking rules. Here are some photos from the final public hearing, held in Cullowhee on September 12, 2014:
Katie Hicks, Assistant Director of Clean Water for NC, addresses the crowd at the Press Conference before the final Public Hearing on Fracking Rules, in Cullowhee, Sept. 12 2014
Amy Adams, former DENR employee and now with Appalachian Voices, speaks to the crowd at the press conference.
Greg Leading Fox ended the press conference with a traditional Ponca prayer song. Greg and his wife Susan Leading Fox have been grassroots leaders in Swain County.
Promises Lie in Ruins after Senate Bill 786, Public Resistance to Fracking Growing
Rather than tamping down resistance to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, the state’s newest legislation on fracking Senate Bill 786, dubbed the “Energy Modernization Act,” has only strengthened it and increased the controversy across the state. With budget negotiations between the House and Senate still underway at press time to decide whether $1 million in contracts for gas exploration will be doled out to industry for several locations around the state, activism has grown sharply in the far western mountain counties and the western piedmont Davie and Yadkin Counties.
When NC legislators passed Senate Bill 820 in 2012 over Governor Perdue’s veto, to allow horizontal drilling and injection of “fracking fluids” to extract natural gas, they broke a long -standing promise to the people of North Carolina to protect groundwater as a source of drinking water. But to get enough votes to pass SB 820 with legislators in both parties worried about public reaction, the bill’s sponsors had agreed to include several new promises to placate the public.
Among the promises made to the public in the 2012 legislation that legalized fracking:
- A moratorium on issuing fracking permits until the Mining and Energy Commission had finished drafting more than 120 complex rules and the legislature had voted to approve them.
- The most protective “baseline testing” rules in the nation, with a requirement to test drinking water wells out to 5,000 feet from drilling operations.
- Legislation based on the results of Study Groups on Compulsory Pooling of landowners and Local Government Control of gas drilling and development.
Continue reading Public Hearings on Oil and Gas Rules
Click to enlarge for more detail
Many of you contacted your legislators in recent weeks to let them how concerned you were about the threat of fracking and to ask them vote AGAINST Senate Bill 786. Now’s the time to let them know that you know how they voted, and that you are either very grateful for or very disappointed in their vote and what it says about their support for protecting their constituents instead of industrial polluters!
Here’s a simple alphabetical list of all House and Senate members, with the Counties they represent, their votes on Senate Bill 786 and party affiliation. Each legislator’s name includes a link to their contact info. Call or email them to THANK them for their vote or let them know what you think of their judgment about protecting their constituents’ water, air and land. For those who want to see votes on various amendments, check out this link to Environment NC’s analysis on the Senate and the House.
Thanks for taking action!
Join us today in front of the Hallifax Mall, as we express our outrage on the rushed passage of fracking bill S786, tax legislation, a terrible budget, and many other environmental justice and health issues. We will be calling on Governor McCrory to veto the fracking bill!
You can still call the Governor and tell him to veto S786: 1-800-662-7952.
The fracking bill (S786) passed the first reading in the House on May 28 with a vote 63-52 (see bill updates here
). If approved by the House after a final vote, S786 would lift the moratorium on fracking
, without requiring the final vote by the legislature on fracking regulations, and allows permitting to start (see News & Observer article
). The bill is on the House agenda today (Thurs. May 29) — please contact your House Representative ASAP and urge them to vote “NO” to S786 and not lift the moratorium on fracking! Click here to get your legislators’ contact info.
Take Action today (5/29) by rallying to protect our state from fracking!
What: Rally to stop fracking in North Carolina
Where: North Carolina General Assembly, 16 W Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
When: Thursday, May 29 at 12:15 p.m.
For more info see Facebook event page here.
Fracking Bill (SB 786) on Senate Floor Today - Contact Your Senator Now!
Thanks to those of you who called your state Senators yesterday about Senate Bill 786! (Here’s the background info we sent out yesterday).
The bill is moving fast, and it’s expected to be on the Senate floor today at 2:00 PM. Yesterday, a dangerous new provision was added to lift the moratorium on fracking and allow permits for drilling to be issued starting in July 2015, with no final vote by the legislature.
Please let your Senator know how you feel about fracking, and its potential impacts in your community. Contact your Senator before 1:30 today if possible and urge them to oppose this outrageous bill!
Click here to get your legislators’ contact information by searching by county or zip code. Thanks!
Filed Thursday afternoon, Senate Bill 786 seems designed to create an appearance of responding to some constituents’ concerns, but runs roughshod over others and is silent on several critical issues! This bill could start to move early next week, so watch for alerts and prepare to weigh in with your Senators soon.
From Fayetteville Observer: N.C. bill tightens some rules for fracking, loosens others
Here’s a summary of what the bill does, so you can prepare to act next week! To find who represents you, click here to use county, zip code or district information.
- Baseline testing was to be carried out for all water supply wells up to 5,000 feet from a drilling site, according to Senate Bill 820, passed in 2012. This bill slashed that radius to 2,640 feet (1/2 mile), along with the radius of “presumed liability.”
- Restrictions on local government protections further tightened. Now any local ordinance that directly bans or indirectly restricts fracking can be pre-empted, and it will be the MEC, rather than a court, that rules on local ordinances!
- S786 would leave trade secret information in the hands of the State Geologist and make it available on an emergency basis to emergency management officials and health providers, BUT it makes trade secret disclosure a felony, requiring jail time, which we think no other state does!
- There’s now a requirement for companies to submit information about their compliance history and a permit can be denied for a “bad actor.”
Key concerns the bill does nothing about:
- Forced pooling. Because this is SO controversial, especially in an election year, it looks like it’ll be left ‘til next year. Allowed since a 1945 law, forced pooling is a threat to the rights of small landowners and renters and should be prohibited!
- Wastewater disposal. There is no safe way to dispose of the millions of gallons of toxic fracking wastewater, but the bill doesn’t prohibit surface discharge, or require new standards.
- Air emissions. Senate Bill 820 told regulators to develop rules to control toxic air emissions from fracking. They haven’t, and this has caused many of the most serious health problems.
- Long term contamination. Nothing in bill would provide a remedy for folks whose health or property are destroyed by long-term contamination that shows up years after drilling is over.
- Gathering lines. The lines that move gas from wells to processing facilities are poorly regulated, and their construction may threaten property rights.
Last Thursday, the Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy met and recommended a draft bill that had been hashed out for months to be introduced for this year’s short session to begin on Wednesday, May 14. A quick review by several allies indicates some good news:
- The bill would require trade secret chemical info to be held by DENR
- A new “bad actor” provision would allow DENR to turn down permit applications from companies with bad compliance record
…and some bad news:
- The radius for baseline testing and “presumptive liability” would be cut from 5,000 feet to 2,640 feet
- Local authority to pass protective ordinances would be severely restricted; industry could file a petition for pre-emption
It’s no surprise that the draft bill completely avoids dealing with other controversial issues before the November elections: forced pooling, adequacy of bonding and long term contamination.
Mining and Energy Commission to meet May 15, 16 to look at 20 rules packages.
The Mining & Energy Commission will meet this Thursday and Friday (May 15, 16) from9:00 AM – 5:00 PM to discuss key oil and gas rules (view agenda here). Brief comments will be allowed, sign up before 12:00 each day. If you cannot attend the meeting in person but would like to hear the conversation live then follow the instructions below to “livestream” the meeting.
1.) On Thurs, May 15th click here OR Fri, May 16 click here. 2.)If requested, enter your name and email address. 3.) If a password is required, enter the meeting password: 12345 4.) Click “Join.”