Meredith Leight: Forced fracking

July 14, 2012 

Forced fracking

I am a farmer in Chatham County, and I am concerned about the impact of Senate Bill 820, the state fracking bill, on landowners like me. The bill does not do enough to protect landowners’ basic property rights, and it legalizes fracking without allowing time for the state to adequately study its impacts.

For example, SB 820 leaves the issue of forced pooling on the table, to be dealt with by a regulatory commission next year. An issue this important should be dealt with before fracking is legalized, not after.

Forced pooling forces gas-rights owners to sign a gas lease if a certain percentage of their neighbors have signed leases. In other words, it allows private companies to take what is yours against your will.

Fracking requires large drilling pads, pipelines and other infrastructure that can easily interfere with farming and other land uses. Unless forced pooling is outlawed, I could be forced to allow fracking on my land without being able to negotiate terms, even if allowing gas extraction on my land meant I lost farmland and farm income. SB 820 does not do enough to protect the rights of North Carolina landowners, and I urge Gov. Beverly Purdue to veto it.

Meredith Leight

Granite Springs Farm

Pittsboro

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