This Wednesday and Friday, next Monday, and Sept 12th there will be public hearing on proposed fracking rules for NC. Please try to make one of the hearings and speak out! Here’s some background information about the issues to help you prepare your comments. More information to follow.
Making Public Comments on North Carolina’s Proposed Fracking Rules
Public hearings on the state’s proposed fracking rules start on August 20. Below is information about the meetings themselves, as well as, information that can help you create constructive comments.
The dates, times, and locations for the public hearings are as follows:
August 20, 2014 – Raleigh Public Hearing
NCSU- McKimmon Center, Raleigh, NC from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
August 22, 2014 – Sanford Public Hearing
Wicker Civic Center, Sanford, NC from 5:00 to 9:00pm.
August 25, 2014 – Reidsville Public Hearing
Rockingham County High School, Reidsville, NC from 5:00 to 9:00pm.
September 12, 2014 – Cullowhee Public Hearing
Bardo Fine & Performing Arts Center- WCU, Cullowhee, NC from 5:00 to 9:00 pm.
There are a wide range of issues related to fracking upon which you may wish to comment. Click on one of the topics below to get more information about that topic. Feel free to use this information in your talking points. And if you have any questions about the hearings or other ways you can contribute, please contact Zak Keith, lead organizer for the NC Sierra Club.
Topics related to the proposed fracking rules:
Click here to visit NC DENR’s page where you can read the proposed rules and find more information related to the Mining & Energy Commission.
Toxic air emissions from fracking operations are a threat to public health and the environment, but the rules proposed by the Mining and Energy Commission fail to take the most basic actions needed to address air pollution. The MEC is authorized to regulate toxic air emissions from drilling operations.
Fracking operations will likely be a source of regional nitrogen oxide (NOx) and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. More of these kind of emissions will make it more difficult for the Triangle area to comply with federal air quality standards. The MEC should limit these emissions from fracking operations.
Fracking operations will likely require many diesel truck trips. Diesel truck exhaust contains fine particles and air toxics including carcinogens 1,3-butadiene, acetaldehyde, acrolein, benzene and formaldehyde. The MEC should limit these emissions from fracking operations.
There is a federally approved (but not yet required) method of capturing and controlling some toxic air emissions from fracking wellheads – called ‘green completions’. The MEC should require all gas wells drilled in NC to have green completions under rules 5H .1308 (Permit Conditions) and 5H .1614 (Wellhead Requirements).
The MEC should require that fracking operators drilling near high occupancy buildings conduct continuous air quality monitoring to protect public health in Rule 5H .1308.
Fracking operations may cause soil and groundwater contamination over the long-term but yet the MEC proposed rules lack effective remedies for neighbors of fracking operations who may suffer these impacts. Fracking operations require storage and use of a variety of chemicals including brines, corrosive minerals and radioactive materials – which, if mismanaged, can cause long-lasting soil and water contamination.
The MEC proposed rules rely heavily on self-reporting of spills and violations and self-corrective actions by fracking operators in 5H .2005. The MEC should require soil and water testing as a component of a reclamation plan under 5H .2102, with clear requirements for soil and groundwater remediation if contamination is found. The certainty of such testing is best deterrent to non-compliance with 5H .2005.
Fracking generates huge volumes of wastewater that may contain chemicals, carcinogens and a variety of contaminants. There is no safe way to dispose of this wastewater in North Carolina and the MEC proposed rules lack critical safeguards to protect public health and the environment from contaminated wastewater. A single fracking well can use up to 6 million gallons of water and much of this water eventually flows back out of the well as flowback wastewater. The flowback water can get contaminated from chemicals added in for the fracking operations and may include naturally occurring contaminants from underground – like salts, heavy metals and sometimes radioactive materials. Further, NC does not have water quality standards for many fracking contaminants.
The MEC proposed rule 5H .2002 would mandate a state-approved waste disposal plan before fracking may begin. This plan could identify a waste disposal facility for fracking wastewater – but there is no requirement that the facility actually be permitted, built and running. The MEC should require that plans identify facilities that are actually up and running in Rule 15A NCAC 5H .2002(d)(6).
The MEC should disallow transportation of fracking wastewater to any facility that will discharge a contaminant listed by the federal government as a known or suspected carcinogen, teratogen, toxicant or endocrine disruptor. This change would strengthen Rule 15A NCAC 5H .2003(i).
The MEC should require that all wastewater be managed in a closed loop system.
Accidents happen and the MEC rules should be written to protect public health and the environment in the case of spills. The proposed rules do not require operators to submit contingency plans for spills associated with drilling operations. The MEC should require that fracking operations have a spill prevention and response plan for all reportable spills under Rule .2005 as a condition of any permit under .1304.
Fracking operations have the potential to contaminate surrounding soil and water. Baseline data is information collected ahead of time to be used to measure any future changes against. The MEC should require that fracking operators collect extensive baseline data on drinking water prior to drilling to be able to tell if that water is contaminated by fracking. Baseline testing should go along with monitoring requirements to ensure that the state and public can evaluate long-term impacts of fracking.
NC law requires four samples in the two years following drilling. The MEC should extend the requirement for baseline testing from 2 years to 6 years after drilling.
NC law says that operators are responsible for paying for baseline testing but is unclear as to who is responsible for doing the baseline testing. Nonetheless, the proposed MEC rules say that if an owner does not conduct baseline testing, they waive the legal protections of presumptive liability (meaning that the operator is assumed to be liable for contamination within a certain area unless shown otherwise). The MEC should require that operators implement baseline testing programs utilizing third party labs.
Fluids used to frack generally contain many chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens. Over 750 chemicals are known to have been used in fracking. Not all chemicals used in fracking operations are required to be disclosed; some are allowed to be kept secret if they qualify as trade secrets.
The MEC should require fracking operators to disclose all chemicals used in fracking operations. At a minimum, the MEC should require disclosure of constituent chemicals and their chemical abstract numbers for all chemicals in drilling and fracking fluids. Further, the MEC should require that when a formula for a fracking fluid is a trade secret,that component chemicals still be disclosed and made public – to ensure protection of water quality.