Fracking is not worth risking our water

12 days worth of natural gas, 360 jobs a poor return
Sep 02, 2014

There’s no doubt that the U.S. needs to explore alternative methods to make our country more energy independent in the future, but the benefits must outweigh the risks.

For Pennsylvania and other states that have large supplies of natural gas underground, fracking has supplied massive amounts of natural gas and oil that has boosted local economies, generated electricity and created much-needed jobs. However, fracking poses significant risks to our water supply,  both ground and well water contamination, can decrease property value, increase air quality problems and destabilize the Earth by causing earthquakes The long-term effects are still unknown.

Haywood County seems to be safe from any testing or future fracking in North Carolina, but testing to see if there is natural gas in Graham County and other surrounding western counties will begin soon. There also is an area closer to Raleigh where fracking permitting is expected to ensue.

Even if fracking doesn’t occur in our backyard, damage to the ground water in the state would negatively impact all of us. While the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that 380 jobs could be created over seven years if natural gas companies come to North Carolina, those jobs would probably be filled by people outside the state and would be temporary. More importantly, the natural gas deposits in the state indicate there is only enough of the precious resource to supply the nation’s needs for 12 days, a pittance in the overall scheme of things.

Creating 380 temporary jobs and revenue that will more than likely leave the state is not worth compromising our pristine water supply. More than 50 percent of people in North Carolina use well water, recreational tourism is one of our largest industries and some of the largest companies in N.C. are bottled water suppliers.

Fracking is now legal in the state, but the regulations companies must follow to receive a permit are still up in the air. The public still has a chance to voice their opinions about the drafted regulations, which are not strict enough to protect us from fracking dangers.

Tuesday’s announcement that Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas have selected a company to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline diagonally across the state to pipe in natural gas and meet the state’s growth needs is even more reason to move cautiously when it comes to exploring for deposits locally.

Under the drafted rules for the state, companies don’t have to disclose the chemicals they use when fracking, the setbacks aren’t far enough away from buildings and wells, exceptions are allowed if a company makes a “good faith effort” to comply and local governments don’t have the ability to establish any fees to better regulate fracking in their communities.

Residents may not be able to stop fracking, but they can inform themselves on the risks and demand the state put in place a better plan to protect our natural resources.

Voice your concerns at a public hearing regarding the proposed fracking rules at 5 p.m. Sept. 12 at Western Carolina University’s Liston B. Ramsey Regional Activity Center, 92 Catamount Road, Cullowhee.