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Take Our Poll: How Tough Should We Be on the Fracking Industry in North Carolina?

The status on North Carolina fracking: On hold.

Two years ago this month, North Carolina lawmakers put an end to the state's fracking ban. It was short-lived, though. A subsequent lawsuit resulted in a drilling moratorium issued by a federal judge, and fracking has been on hold in North Carolina ever since.

What is fracking?

Fracking is short for hydraulic fracturing. It's a process by which water, chemicals, and other ingredients are injected into the ground at high pressure, which fractures the shale rock and allows natural gas extraction.

Fracking may harm the environment.

Opponents argue that fracking harms the environment - possible groundwater contamination, the triggering of earthquakes, and the heavy use of resources as part of the drilling process itself (millions of gallons of water, for example), have all been alleged as negative consequences of fracking.

But is it good for the economy?

On the other hand, fracking supporters claim that it's good for the economy. In 2015, BBC News reported that fracking "significantly boosted domestic oil production" in the States. This boost will apparently keep us running for another 100 years.

Reuters quoted Gov. Pat McCrory upon his original signing of the legislation that ended the North Carolina fracking ban in 2014. Gov. McCrory spoke to the economic benefits:

"We have watched and waited as other states moved forward with energy exploration, and it is finally our turn. This legislation will spur economic development at all levels of our economy, not just the energy sector."

According to the Reuters report, there are an estimated 83 million barrels of natural gas trapped within North Carolina's shale rock.

Should we hold fracking companies accountable?

If a company violates the environmental rules of the state, there are consequences. That's what happened to Duke Energy when its storm water pipe collapsed in 2014. The collapse caused tons of coal ash to flood the Dan River. The incident resulted in more than $100M in fines levied by the state environmental agency, as well as Duke Energy's guilty plea for violating the Clean Water Act.

In the case of Duke Energy's coal ash spill, criminal liability is fairly clear. But when it comes to fracking, we'll have to decide as a state whether we want to impose the same kind of punishment - and in what circumstances.

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