Gov. McCrory signs fracking bill

Cathy Martin - Jun 04, 2014 - 4:00:00 pm

Gov. Pat McCrory today signed the Energy Modernization Act of 2014, otherwise known as the "fracking" bill. It will pave the way for shale-gas exploration in North Carolina.

In a press release, the McCrory administration says the law could create much-needed jobs in rural areas and spur economic development not just in the energy sector but in other industries as well, including retail and hospitality businesses that would support gas workers.

While natural gas doesn't burn as clean as renewable sources such as solar, natural gas-fired power plants emit about half the greenhouse gas of coal plants. Newer gas plants use a combined-cycle technology that allows them to achieve lower carbon-dioxide emission rates, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Under the Obama administration's plan to reduce greenhouse emissions, released earlier this week, North Carolina's power plants have to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. (The New York Times compares the current attack on coal to the war on tobacco in the 1990s, noting that North Carolina has a large stake in both industries.)

While opponents of fracking worry about the unknown implications of drilling, including potential harm to drinking water, supporters view it as a way to move away from the era of coal as the primary source of energy.

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