Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 5:28 PM

The Senate Passes Energy Modernization Act

When I was a child, and daring, "frack" was my risky substitute cuss word; but not substitute enough.... Well it's back at the General Assembly this summer as lawmakers set the stage for hydraulic fracturing "fracking" in North Carolina. Opponents claim there is not enough clarity regarding the rights of property owners under which the fracking might occur and not enough public disclosure regarding what chemicals are used in the fracking process. Proponents insist that the revenue and job creating opportunity is too good to delay further and that the state's Mining Commission can adequately oversee the process.

SB 786 - Energy Modernization Act. Also known as An Act to
(1) Extend the Deadline for Development of a Modern Regulatory Program for the Management of Oil and Gas Exploration, Development, and Production in the State and the Use of Horizontal Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing Treatments for that Purpose;
(2) Enact of Modify Certain Exemptions from Requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act Applicable to Rules for the Management of Oil and Gas Exploration, Development, and Production in the State and the Use of Horizontal Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing Treatment for that Purpose;
(3) Create the North Carolina Oil and Gas Commission and Reconstitute the North Carolina Mining Commission;
(4) Amend Miscellaneous Statutes Governing Oil and Gas Exploration, Development, and Production Activities;
(5) Establish a Severance Tax Applicable to Oil and Gas Exploration, Development, and Production Activities;
(6) Amend Miscellaneous Statutes Unrelated to Oil and Gas Exploration, Development, and Production Activities; and
(7) Direct Studies on Various Issues, as Recommended by the Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy.

Attempts to amend the bill on 2nd reading with stricter water quality and property protections failed. Amendments on 3rd reading were more harmonious with unanimously approval aimed at striking a balance between the public's right to know about chemicals and processes involved in fracking and trade secrets, as well as requirements for bonding and restoration. The engrossed version of the bill is here: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/Senate/PDF/S786v3.pdf

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