General Assembly Overrides Veto on Fracking Bill
The N.C. General assembly on Monday voted to override Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of legislation that would allow North Carolina to drill for natural gas through a controversial process known as fracking.
Late Monday night, the House overrode the veto by a razor-thin margin only after a Democratic lawmaker who said she pushed the wrong button in favor of the measure was not allowed to change her vote, according to The News & Observer of Raleigh. The Senate, earlier in the day, also voted to override the veto.
Perdue said in a statement Sunday announcing the veto that she did not think the legislation went far enough to protect the environment.
“I support energy policies that create jobs and lower costs for businesses and families,” Perdue said. “Our drinking water and the health and safety of North Carolina’s families are too important; we can’t put them in jeopardy by rushing to allow fracking without proper safeguards.
It would take a three-fifths majority in both the House and Senate to override the veto of Senate Bill 820. In the Senate, that would be 30 votes and in the House, at least 72 if all the members were present. Neither side had reached those numbers in approving the legislation.
House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger, in a joint statement, called the veto a “flip-flop,” The News & Observer reported. They said the General Assembly incorporated many of the governor’s recommendations in crafting the legislation.
Environmental groups praised Perdue for vetoing the bill. Critics of the legislation said it does not allow enough time to develop rules and regulations to ensure families, communities and the environment will be protected from the risks associated with natural gas development.
State Rep. Jamie Boles, who represents most of Moore County, supported the legislation. He said last month that the General Assembly worked closely with the governor’s office to send her a bill with growing bipartisan support.
The bill gives the governor four appointees to a new Mining and Energy Commission. He pointed out that the governor had none in previous versions.
The General Assembly would have to approve all new regulations and standards before any drilling and fracking permits could be issued. That vote could at least be two years away.
The bill directs the commission and several state agencies to study the impacts and develop the regulations by October 2014.
Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking,” is germane to northern Moore County, which lies atop the Deep River Basin, where state geologists initially believed a 40-year supply of natural gas exists.
But a recently released U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assessment showed that the Deep River Basin has an amount of natural gas equivalent to 5.6 years of usage based on 2010 consumption rates in North Carolina.
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