Governor Pat McCrory now has a bill on his desk that lifts the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina.
Opponents of the Energy Modernization Act, or Senate Bill 786, rallied at the state capitol Thursday as House members debated the bill and proposed amendments for several hours.
Once the bill passed the House by a 14-vote margin, the Senate quickly approved the changes.
Complaints about the pace at which the bill sped through chambers were largely coming from House Democrats.
Other concerns focused on the fact that with no rules yet established governing the industry, the Mining and Energy Commission would be the sole arbiters of the final regulations – with no further legislative approval.
During the debate on the floor, Democratic Representative Pricey Harrison of Guilford County asked why such a complicated bill brought with it such exigency.
"Why are we rushing this bill? The proponents have said NC needs the jobs and America needs the energy. 387 jobs and 12 days of gas does not seem like it’s worth the risk to our natural resources and to our public health. There are so many problems associated with this industry. We have plenty of time to get it right… It makes all kinds of sense for us to wait and not rush this bill."
Republican Representative Bill Brawley from Mecklenburg County, who voted for Senate Bill 786, says much of the opposition is based on misinformation.
"We’re going to hear a lot of frightening talk about things that are not in this bill. We’re going to hear a lot of fear about situations that don’t exist in this. And I read the bill; it ain’t great but it is what it is. And I’m going to support it."
House members Rick Catlin and Susi Hamilton voted against the bill. Ted Davis and Frank Iler voted in favor of it. The two senators from southeastern North Carolina, Thom Goolsby and Bill Rabon, both supported the bill.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a mining technique in which chemicals and sand are injected at high pressure to extract gas or oil from subterranean rock formations.