Editorial: Just Say No to Fracking in Cary

Editorial by Hal Goodtree. Map from Southern Environmental Law Center.

Cary, NC – Fracking has the potential to make North Carolina a net energy exporter. But serious concerns exist about contamination of water supplies. Until those concerns are laid to rest, Cary needs to ban fracking within our town limits.

What’s Fracking?

Fracking, short for fracturing, injects water and a slurry of sand and chemicals at high pressure into rock formations. The rock formations form cracks (or fractures), creating channels for the release of natural gas, oil and other substances that can be recovered and brought to the surface for refining and sale.

Shale formations offer an enticing opportunity for fracking. The hydrocarbons in shale represent a bonanza of untapped resources for energy companies, but have been difficult and expensive to extract.

Fracking and North Carolina

Of interest to geologists and energy companies is an ancient seam of shale called Triassic basins running from Massachusetts to the South Carolina border.

In North Carolina, the seam of greatest commercial interest runs from north of Durham down through Sanford and into the Sandhills. A portion of this zone cuts through the western part of Cary.

What’s Good About Fracking

Energy independence, that’s what’s good about fracking. Geologists and industry experts have predicted that fracking could make North Carolina a net energy exporter and provide a 40 year supply of natural gas.

Don’t Drink the Water

The most serious concern about fracking is the release of toxic chemicals into water supplies.

State officials in New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wyoming and elsewhere have raised serious concerns about fracking and enacted legislation to protect consumers and water sources.

In Wyoming, near a development called the Pavillion field, the EPA recently released a finding that detected contamination in test wells of groundwater.

“Residents of Pavillion long have said their drinking water stinks of chemicals and is giving them health problems. Health officials last year recommended that they not drink their water and ventilate their bathrooms while showering.” – Business Week

The Deep River shale basin in N.C. runs through the western portion of Cary and along the eastern bank of Jordan Lake. Cary gets its drinking water from Jordan Lake.

Industry disputes the EPA finding and says that fracking is perfectly safe. But legitimate concerns and the first-hand experience of farmers, landowners and consumers across the U.S. have called that blanket pronouncement into question.

What’s needed is more science – independent and peer-reviewed. Why rush into something that could contaminate the drinking water of 2.4 million people in North Carolina?

Disclose the Chemicals

For me, the biggest sticking point is the unwillingness of energy extractors to disclose the chemicals they use in the fracking process. Companies say revealing the ingredients of the mix would amount to disclosing trade secrets.

This is a disingenuous argument. Companies could reveal what chemicals they use, but not the exact amounts of each ingredient or the precise formula. If all companies were forced to disclose under the same standards, the policy would not affect the competitive balance. Lawmakers in several states have been studying this option.

Without a list of the chemicals used in the process, it’s impossible to know whether groundwater contamination came from fracking.

Disclosure is a fair expectation. N.C. lawmakers should adopt it. Industry needs to accept it.

No to Fracking in Cary

Sanford has massive deposits of shale. It could become an oil boom town.

Deposits in Cary are certainly more modest.

But until concerns about ground and surface water are set to rest, Cary Town Council should place a ban on fracking within the limits of our municipality.

14 replies
  1. MJ Creech
    MJ Creech says:

    PS, The lawyers who will come and offer to represent you to get you the “best deal” and protect you in your contract with the drilling companies…well they work for the drilling companies. The idea of “American oil and gas independence” is bogus. Check out how many permits to pump the gas to the East coast and the Gulf Coast have been applied for and granted. Think container ships, and eventually undersea pipelines. It’s a global economy now and the gas is going to the highest bidder–China and other rising countries. The amount produced will be balanced against the highest profit. Just like gasoline now. Research who owns the drilling companies–think Americans? Think again. Your Governor needs to visit WV fracking sites. We all do.

  2. MJ Creech
    MJ Creech says:

    It’s coming, good people of Cary. Fracking. I live in Ohio and it’s here. And no, I can’t say I have seen the destruction yet personally because most of my area is still in the “let’s get more information” stage. (Unless you count that earthquake near fracking sites in NE Ohio). But PA…LOOK! I don’t want to be here on your site all day, but for God’s sake,or humanity’s, if you wish, read all you can about this process. Many of the chemicals used are radioactive and carcinogenic, and they are even trying to SPRAY the returned water (about 1/4 to 1/3 of what is pumped down into the fracking well) on Ohio roads “to keep the dust down in summer”! The drilling companies don’t charge for this “service.” Wonder why not? Get rid of the stuff? Ohio has become a dumping ground for PA’s wastewater from fracking. The real tragedy is that our elected officials are being lied to by industry officials about the dangers. Google fracking and read everything you can. I consider farm animals and pets dying, family members getting cancers, water becoming undrinkable, showers containing enough methane gas to make you woozy, property values going DOWN, banks not touching mortgages on property with fracking, drilling near enough to your property or under it, without your permission, ALL this and more is cause for a moratorium on fracking. What price America the Beautiful, for your soul?

  3. Hal Goodtree
    Hal Goodtree says:

    Don –

    Thanks for your comments. We would never allow anyone to beat you to a pulp on CaryCitizen.

    Personally, I’m not dead-set against fracking or any other type of resource recovery. After all, energy companies wouldn’t want to drill-baby-drill if we, as Americans, didn’t want to drive-baby-drive.

    And I don’t think we need a thicket of rules and regulation. But we do need to set standards and clear penalties for failure to protect the environment. This may raise the apparent cost of hydraulic fracturing, but it’s the real and actual cost.

    Industry pronouncements to date have been a whitewash of “it’s all perfectly safe.” The drilling operation itself seems solid, but above ground transport and processing is where the problems occur. Industry needs to get real when it comes to legitimate community concerns. Self-regulation in the form of disclosure about chemicals is a good first step.

  4. Don Hyatt
    Don Hyatt says:

    I realize this will be ridiculously unpopular here and some of you will undoubtedly misinterpret my intentions by posting it but I feel it still need to be pointed out. The EPA study is likely flawed, it’s certainly not been peer reviewed and it relates to entirely different geography so it’s not even relevant. Please read

    The EPA’s Fracking Scare
    Breaking down the facts in that Wyoming drinking water study


    before beating me to a pulp.

    I am NOT a fan of fracking and I don’t believe in fracking hysteria either.

  5. Brent
    Brent says:

    “Hear, hear!” to the editorial and comments posted here. Lindsey is right, this is serious. “That other local newspaper” reports that members of the NC General Assembly are taking taxpayer-funded trips and speaking ONLY with the energy companies about how great fracking can be. We need to tell our state legislators to listen to all sides and tell them in no uncertain terms that we’re not going to allow the environment to be ruined for our kids.

  6. Lindsey Chester
    Lindsey Chester says:

    This is not a case of a bunch of tree-huggers saying no to an environmental possibility. This is serious! If allowed, we could be impacted for a very long time. Pollution , health issues, and it doesn’t even leave the landscape looking very good. I never agree with “energy at any cost”. it more of that “drill baby drill: mentality. NO FRACKING not just in NC, but anywhere. Its sneaky bad business.

  7. michelle
    michelle says:

    Currently the House of Representatives is trying to override a vet of the 709 Energy Jobs Act which would fast track fracking and offshore drilling. They plan to vote on it in February. Tell your representatives to prevent the override: https://secure2.edf.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1877

    Also get involved in local groups fighting this. There are many across the Piedmont. One is Croatan Earth First! If you’d like a fracking presentation or screening done of the film Gasland please let us know. We’ve done them in living rooms, libraries, schools and churches.

  8. William Blackley, MD
    William Blackley, MD says:

    Besides toxic chemicals in the fracking fluids, the fracking process emits increased nitrogen oxides leading to increased ground ozone, a pulmonary toxin. The process would also increase particulate matter and soot in the air increasing lung health risks. The fracking fluid would be contaminated and kept in pools that evaporate increasing air pollution. The waste fluid may be contaminated with radioactive materials and these waste pools will eventually leak. Check with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League for an independent summary of fracking risks. Due diligence is not possible to conduct by asking the company that has a financial incentive. Our regulatory agencies can be influenced by legislation and the fracking companies have a huge amount of lobby money. Think Halliburton in your back yard. Call your legislators and say no to fracking.

  9. kelly c
    kelly c says:

    From what I am hearing some people, without buyers agents are signing special warranty deed’s on their house when purchasing. This means the developer owns everything below the surface of the house, and could probably approve fracking/drilling underneath a person’s home without their permission. Something else to investigate Lori. That could be horrible.

  10. Lori Bush
    Lori Bush says:

    Hal – thanks for writing this editorial. I, too, am concerned about the possibility of “fracking” in NC. That’s why one of the first things I will be doing after being sworn in this week, is, (with other Cary council sponsors and hopefully their vote) to request that staff and our environmental advisory board, weigh in on what Cary can do to limit, or ban, fracking in our community.

    • Therese Vick
      Therese Vick says:

      Ms. Bush, I commend you. “Fracking” not only affects water quality, water usage is significant. Additionally, it impacts air quality and creates radioactive and toxic waste products. Banning hydrofracking in Cary is a good idea.

      Therese Vick
      Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League

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