House and Senate lawmakers agreed Tuesday to delay lifting the moratorium on fracking until after the final rules are approved, rather than set a hard date of July 1, 2015.
The compromise clears a major hurdle between the legislative chambers on a measure to establish the framework for natural gas drilling in central North Carolina, but it doesnt resolve all the conflicts.
The House energy committee tweaked the legislation to allow the state to issue drilling permits 60 days after the rules developed by the Mining and Energy Commission are approved by the General Assembly. The rules are expected in January.
Senate Bill 786 won approval in a voice vote with Democrats objecting.
Republican Sen. Bob Rucho of Matthews, the bills chief sponsor, agreed to the amendment, but the Senate must vote on the new language at a later date.
The change may allow the issuance of permits sooner than July 1, 2015, but Rep. Mike Stone, a Sanford Republican leading the effort in the House, said he expects it will come later in the year, possibly September.
Another amendment requires the state to review the track record of companies seeking to drill before granting a permit.
More changes are expected when the legislation moves to House Finance. It could come before the floor this week.
House backs possum drop
The Brasstown possum drop planned for New Years Eve is getting legislative protection.
By a voice vote, the House approved a bill Tuesday to exempt Clay County from state wildlife laws from Dec. 26 to Jan. 2 each year so it can trap an opossum for its annual New Years celebration, which includes lowering the possum in a box at midnight.
The measure now moves to the Senate.
Allen gets initial approval
The House voted 78-39 along partisan lines to approve Charlton Allen, Gov. Pat McCrorys nominee to the N.C. Industrial Commission.
The House will take a final vote Wednesday and send it to the Senate.