The fracking drum is beating louder. Many of us first heard about it when the movie “Gasland” came out, with its shocking footage of a man lighting his tap water on fire. More locally we began to hear about deposits in Lee County that the natural gas industry was interested in.

Recently, Governor Perdue took a secret trip to fracking country in Pennsylvania to meet with industry representatives to learn more about the controversial extraction technique. She did not meet with any environmental experts.

As is typical whenever Big Energy sets its sights on a new profit source with potential polluting consequences, the jobs mantra leads the way. New information concerning the increase in seismic activity in fracking zones is dismissed by the industry. Their latest predictable strategy is to undermine the reports that the toxic slurry forced into underground fissures to free up the gas deposits is getting into groundwater.  

The fracking zone centered around Lee County could affect the Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant if seismic activity is provoked. Groundwater absolutely has been tainted by the practice. What does it mean to inject toxins in the Jordan Lake watershed?

The gas lobby has the majority of State Legislators on a leash. Gov. Perdue is joining the fast-track parade. The N.C. Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has released a study purporting to show that the risks are low, yet within the report itself are multiple unanswered issues.

Meanwhile, politicians across the state are falling in line with the industry public relations campaign. You hear them say in a most reasonable voice that it’s too early to dismiss fracking, the studies need to be analyzed, we need jobs, there has been some misinformation and exaggeration about the problems caused by fracking, etc.

The Carrboro Aldermen have taken a stand against fracking as have the Pittsboro Commissioners. We need the Orange County Commissioners to speak out in defense of, not only Orange County, but the entire region. They may need some persuasion. This is not the most forward-looking, pro-active Board. They may be prone to let their allegiance to the Democratic Party override our best interests in this matter in order not to ruffle Gov. Perdue and the party insiders.

We need to convince the Board to take a stand in favor of clean energy and commit to unequivocally opposing fracking. Extending the discussion by dancing on the political fence will do us no good.  

A first step is to attend the public hearing next Tuesday, March 27 at 6:30pm at East Chapel Hill High School.  The state will be taking comment on the DENR study.