by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
Earlier this week, Gov. Bev Perdue took an unannounced trip to Pennsylvania to look into that state’s experiences with hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract natural gas from shale formations. As reported by The News & Observer,
The governor’s office did not provide an itinerary for the trip but said Perdue and the N.C. delegation received a briefing from Shell Oil and a tour of Shell’s operations in Tioga County before attending a roundtable with state and local officials at Mansfield University. The delegation — which flew on the state plane in a up-and-back trip — included Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Dee Freeman; Kari Barsness, the DENR legislative liaison; Williams; and Nina Szlosberg-Landis, the chairwoman of the Department of Transportation board and a major Democratic donor that Perdue’s office said is "well known in the environmental community."
Perdue’s office said Hanger, a Duke University alumnus, invited the governor to tour the shale gas operations in Pennsylvania during his recent visit to North Carolina.
Hanger had spoken recently at Duke University, where he promoted natural gas as a practical, clean-energy alternative to coal.
According to the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, whose report on Perdue’s visit caught the N&O’s attention, the governor viewed several drilling and pipeline sites before meeting with commissioners from Bradford and Tioga counties and representatives from Shell, Chesapeake Energy, and Northern Tier economic development organizations.
[Tioga County Commissioner Erick] Coolidge said the governor and her delegation were curious about the water and how it is affected and handled and how the community adjusts, as well as how the industry has affected the businesses or economy.
"It is evident by the low unemployment numbers here and in Bradford County that it is a good thing," he added.
Coolidge said he told Perdue it was important to "engage the industry" as well as the public in discussion. He also suggested the localities where drilling is happening have their road bonding and agreements in place before the trucks arrive, not after.
"The takeaway was to have a lot more advance preparation in place than we had," he said.
Upon returning home, Perdue announced that fracking could be done safely in North Carolina with the proper oversight and best drilling practices. Those were points made in this newsletter last week, as was the following:
"It’s jobs. It’s a fuel source produced in this country, and it’s something that can help America and North Carolina be globally competitive," the governor said.
A further note about the potential hiring boom: The Obama administration has from its outset devoted sizeable financial resources to pushing so-called green energy alternatives, yet these extra-market endeavors have yielded very little beyond layoffs and bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the fracking revolution has had such a positive effect on employment that the latest research finds nearly one out of five new, good-paying jobs are in oil and gas.
Perdue, of course, had vetoed legislation that would have led to a review and likely changes in state law with respect to hydraulic fracturing. State leaders are expecting to receive soon a draft of the mandated report on hydraulic fracturing from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Despite her comments, Perdue has unsurprisingly equivocated; per the N&O, "A Perdue spokesman said Wednesday evening she hasn’t made up her mind on whether she’ll support efforts to make fracking legal in the state."
In other news: The New Hampshire House has voted to repeal that state’s Certificate of Need Board. It’s a good move. Getting rid of Certificate of Need laws is something state leaders here should do. It’s one health care reform that’s ripe for the picking in North Carolina.
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