Under the Dome

Dome: Vote on fracking moratorium moves to full NC House

From Staff ReportsJune 6, 2013 

An N.C. House committee approved a bill Thursday that keeps the state’s fracking moratorium in place and puts the state geologist back on the N.C. Mining & Energy Commission.

The legislation, Senate Bill 76, rejects the Senate’s attempt to fast-track shale gas exploration in North Carolina and restores a number of public protections and environmental safeguards the legislature enacted last year. The bill passed another House committee Wednesday and is expected to be voted on Friday by the full House.

The measure eliminates several controversial Senate provisions, including one that would have allowed injecting fracking wastewater underground. North Carolina has banned deep injections of industrial and chemical waste for four decades.

It also restores a state registry, enacted in 2012, to track oil-and-gas landmen who promote and sign leases with North Carolina property owners. It adds a fine of up to $5,000 for landmen who commit fraud or deception and makes failure to register a misdemeanor.

While it keeps the state’s fracking moratorium in place, it allows state agencies to start issuing provisional fracking permits on March 1, 2015. However, the permits would not be effective until the state legislature votes to legalize fracking, so if the legislature doesn’t vote, or if the vote fails, then the provisional permits would have no effect.

Pro-Tillis, anti-Hagan

Americans for Prosperity is targeting Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in a new Web ad about renewable energy at the same time the conservative organization touts Republican Thom Tillis on taxes.

Tillis, the House speaker, announced last week his intentions to challenge Hagan and filed campaign papers this week.

The timing of the two ad campaigns is coincidental, said Dallas Woodhouse, the group’s North Carolina director. “They have nothing to do with each other,” he said.

The renewable energy ads are appearing online as part of a $175,000 national campaign in 15 states to block charges assessed to businesses based on their pollution footprint. The one in North Carolina says: “Sen. Hagan refused to block a carbon tax. Click here to tell her you can’t afford it.” The amount spent on the N.C. ad is unknown.

AFP’s state chapter is running TV ads with Tillis’ photo as well as Web ads that commend him for pushing a tax reform measure. Woodhouse said the ad campaign was devised before Tillis made his announcement.

Nonprofit moves on from Tillis

Earlier this year, House Speaker Thom Tillis helped launch a 501c4 nonprofit, N.C. House Legislative Partners, that is allowed to raise unlimited sums, take corporate contributions and not adhere to most state campaign finance rules. Now the organization is scrubbing Tillis’ photos from its website.

“As Speaker Tillis moves toward becoming a confirmed Senate candidate, the (organization’s) board has decided to remove his likeness from the web site and other materials to avoid any connection to his campaign,” said Roger Knight, a spokesman and campaign finance attorney, in a statement. Knight said the group is transitioning to future leaders, a move accelerated by Tillis’ decision to run for the U.S. Senate.

Staff writer John Murawski and John Frank

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