NC fracking hearings will follow strict ‘no talking’ rules for hearing officers August 8, 2014

  • Aug. 20, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., N.C. State University’s McKimmon Center, Raleigh

    Aug. 22, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., Wicker Civic Center, Sanford

    Aug. 25, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., Rockingham County High School, Wentworth

    Sept. 12, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., Bardo Fine & Performing Arts Center, Cullowhee

The N.C. Mining and Energy Commission spent Friday working out final details for four statewide hearings that will be the public’s last opportunity to weigh in on proposed fracking safety standards before the state’s fracking moratorium is lifted next year and drilling gets underway.

The commissioners advised each other to hold their tongues when talking to the public in the weeks leading up to the hearings so as not to appear biased on a highly sensitive issue.

The hearings, to be held later this month in Raleigh, Sanford and other locations, could be packed with hundreds of people lining up for their chance to speak for a maximum of 3 minutes. They will include a security presence to dissuade protests and disruptions, which are expected given the emotional nature of shale gas exploration.

The commission also extended a deadline for public comments to Sept. 30 as commissioners prepare more than 100 fracking rules for the state legislature by January.

“We’re going to get thousands and thousands of comments,” Commissioner James Womack said. “This is perhaps the most challenging aspect of what we’ve done to date.”

In an unexpected move Friday, the commission narrowed the format of the upcoming hearings in such a way that may create an impression that commissioners don’t care a great deal what the public has to say on the issue. For example, commissioners will not answer questions from public speakers, and no more than seven of the 14 members will attend any of the four public hearings.

The reason for the restrictions: The state’s administrative procedures establish different rules for public hearings and public meetings. A meeting requires taking minutes, requires a quorum and involves voting on policy decisions.

A hearing, on the other hand, is a way to collect public statements on an issue of public interest without any deliberations or decisions. If more than seven commissioners were to show up at a hearing, that could be legally construed as a meeting that is skirting procedural rules.

“This will be a public hearing, which means there is no response from any of us, about anything,” Vikram Rao, commission chairman, explained during Friday’s meeting.

The hearings will be run by three commissioners who will be called hearing officers. The hearing officers will introduce the proceedings by reading a statement from a script, which will be prepared ahead of time.

Up to four commissioners will be able to attend as audience members. To make sure no more than four show up at any given hearing, the commissioners will sign up on a schedule and agree not to come unannounced.

Even as they agreed to the format, the commissioners took turns expressing concerns that the public could find the process off-putting.

“We have to be mindful of the public relations impact this has and the political sensitivities as well,” Womack said. “There is an impact when you don’t show up at hearings or it’s perceived that you don’t care.”

Commissioners also noted that public comments about specific proposed rules will be more effective than general comments denouncing or endorsing fracking. They assured no comment would be ignored.

“The process is going to be: The hearing officers do not participate, they do not talk back,” Commissioner Amy Pickle said. “It is important for us to be clear about our openness and recapitulating that every single comment we receive will get all due consideration.”

Womack and Pickle will be hearing officers at all four public hearings, along with Ken Taylor, the state geologist.

After the hearings are held and public comments received, the commission will sift through all the remarks and recommendations and consider making changes in the proposed rules. The rules will be sent to the Rules Review Commission in November or December, then forwarded to the state legislature.

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Concerns On Proposed Pipeline Discussed At Randolph County Commission Meeting

Posted: Aug 07, 2014 11:02 PM EST Updated: Aug 07, 2014 11:50 PM EST
ELKINS – Dominion Resources proposed building a 550-mile pipeline to bring natural gas from the Appalachian basin to markets in Virginia and North Carolina.

The Randolph County Commission meeting was packed on Thursday. The commission heard about concerns and support regarding construction of proposed 42-inch pipeline and compressor station.

“It was a continuation of our educating the officials and the public on the issue of the proposed pipeline, at this point there has been no discussion by the gas officials in our state,” said Lauren Ragland, of WV Wilderness for Lovers versus Proposed Pipeline.

Concerned citizens feel Dominion’s Southeast Reliability Project, that would run a Dominion Transmission pipeline in Harrison County to Virginia and North Carolina would endanger the quality of life.

“We the people should ask of our officials to what they should do, and that’s protect our quality of life. There are 42 inch pipelines in America, but through the plains incredibly different through the Alleghenies,” Ragland said.

Geologists also spoke about a need for a water resources protection ordinance. They feel county commissions are the only legal authority to protect the resources available in this state.

The commission didn’t provide any comment at this time, but said they would need to hear from gas companies like Dominion before taking any action.

“We haven’t met with the gas companies or representatives or anybody yet. So we’re going to try to get with the gas company, Dominion or which ever gas company they are, and get some more information into what’s exactly going on,” said Chris See, Randolph County Commission president.

The Associated Press said Dominion hasn’t decided whether to build the pipeline.

A route for the pipeline hasn’t been identified. The company is notifying land owners that it will begin surveying for a route as early as this summer.

Rick Webb with the University of Virginia’s Department of Environmental Science is concerned about the pipeline’s impact on the environment. Webb said it would do long-term damage to the Allegheny Highlands.

Screening of The Ghosts In Our Machine

Vegan Night Out Dining in Chapel Hill+Screening of The Ghosts In Our Machine

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

6:30 PM


Varsity Theater

123 East Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC (map)

  • I will be in the theater lobby at 6:15 to meetup with our group for the film. Dinner details – location and time TBD but likely at 5pm and within walking distance to theater.
  • Vegan Night Out comes to Chapel Hill, NC!

    Whether you are vegan, transitioning to veganism, or just veggie-curious, enjoy vegan dinner and a movie with this fun community event. First, enjoy special discounts and offerings of vegan fare at local restaurants from 4-7 PM. (More details on participating restaurants will be forthcoming; once the list of participating restaurants is known, I will post the dinner location and time.)

    Then, join us for the FREE North Carolina premiere of the film The Ghosts in Our Machine.

    Where: Varsity Theatre, 123 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill. Time: Film starts at 7 PM; lobby opens at 6:30 PM for free vegan food, door prizes, literature, and more!
    I will be in the lobby at 6:15 to meet up with our group participants
    Cost: FREE

    Wherever you are on your journey towards a vegan lifestyle, Vegan Night Out will help you experience the power of vegan community and positive energy.

    This event is hosted by Triangle Chance For All – E-mail them at [masked] if you have any questions or for additional information. 

Protesters Storm VT Statehouse

from Earth First! Newswire

Following the North East Regional Climate Justice Gathering/ The Make more than 200 people accompanied by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra and the Bread and Puppet Theater marched through the Statehouse on August 11 demanding a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure and proposed budget cuts. Currently under construction is a pipeline that would bring fracked gas from Alberta to service a paper mill in New York state.  State Street, one of the main thoroughfares in Montpelier, was blocked for two hours by the procession after exiting the Statehouse. No arrests were made.


Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Now the Size of Connecticut

Originally posted on Don Lichterman:

We Need To Move Away From allowing these private oil companies to continue the Drilling In OUR Oceans (I assume Everyone Gets that our Gulf’s and Sea’s are part of what our the “Oceans” BTW).

Wiki pic – Natural Society

oil spill gulf 263x165 Horrific: Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Now the Size of ConnecticutThe BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is mostly to blame for the dead zone’s growing size in the Gulf. Scientists now say that the dead zone is the size of Connecticut – a startling 5,052 square miles. The dead zone started forming, though, in our own backyards.

A joint NOAA-EPA statement announced that scientists supported by the agencies have mapped the oxygen-poor dead zone between July 27 and August 2, 2014. This is within the predicted area that was forecast of between 4,633 and 5,708 square miles based on NOAA models.

How do we contribute to the dead zone? Phosphorous and nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals that we use to encourage…

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WNC hearing scheduled on draft fracking rules

by Anna Oakes

The N.C. Mining and Energy Commission recently agreed to hold a public hearing on proposed fracking regulations in Western North Carolina, in addition to three previously scheduled hearings in the Piedmont.

The meeting is tentatively scheduled from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 12, at the Bardo Fine & Performing Arts Center at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.

The N.C. Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources, on behalf of the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission, is seeking public comments from July 15 through Sept. 15 on a set of proposed rules to regulate oil and gas exploration and development.

Additional public hearings are scheduled for Aug. 20 in Raleigh, Aug. 22 in Sanford and Aug. 25 in Reidsville.

An organization called Clean Water for North Carolina was among those that lobbied for a hearing to be held in the western part of the state.

“Whether or not fracking comes to the mountains, Western North Carolina will feel indirect statewide impacts from fracking in North Carolina, from infrastructure and pipeline development, cost of road repairs, wastewater disposal and more,” the organization said.

Session Law 2012-143 charged the commission with developing regulations for managing oil and gas exploration and development. The General Assembly passed a law this year setting Jan. 1, 2015, as the deadline for adopting the regulations so that permits can be issued to developers.

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” involves drilling a well vertically and then horizontally into the shale formation. The natural gas production company perforates the well and then pumps fracturing fluid (composed of 98 to 99.5 percent sand and water,  plus chemical additives) into the well under pressure to fracture the shale.

The proposed regulations include sections on definitions, administrative rules, exploration and geophysical surveys, drilling units and well spacing, permitting, financial assurance, well site construction, well construction and completion, chemical disclosure, environmental sampling (baseline and subsequent sampling), water acquisition and use, waste management, reclamation and operation and production.

Known locations of natural gas resources in the state include the Deep River Basin, which extends from Granville County south to Union County, the Dan River-Danville Basin in Stokes and Rockingham counties and the Davie Basin, which straddles Yadkin and Davie counties.

But the General Assembly has also authorized a study of potential presence of shale gas in the Western North Carolina counties of Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain.

According to a fact sheet prepared by the organization Clean Water for North Carolina, “We don’t know the likelihood of natural gas or oil in the mountains of North Carolina. Though some geologists have expressed skepticism that there is any significant amount, state geologist Ken Taylor thinks it is a possibility.”

Clean Water for North Carolina noted that “much of the land that could possibly be fracked in Western North Carolina is public land — state and national forests.”

The U.S. Forest Service acknowledged the potential for oil and gas exploration in the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests in a July 11 statement.

“In 2008, the Bureau of Land Management completed a 10-year forecast and did not predict any oil or gas wells, or surface disturbance,” USFS said. However, a document called the “Preliminary Need to Change the Existing Land Management Plan” for the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests, dated March 4, 2014, indicated, “There is a need to update plan direction to address potential commercial oil, gas and hard rock mineral exploration and uses.”

The March 12 notice of intent to revise the forest plans said, “No decision regarding oil and gas leasing availability will be made in the revised Forest Plan, though standards will be brought forward or developed that would serve as mitigations should an availability decision be necessary in the future.”

Citizens are not required to attend public hearings to provide input on the proposed North Carolina fracking regulations. Written comments may be submitted through Sept. 15 by mail to the Mining & Energy Commission, ATTN: Oil and Gas Program, 1612 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699; by email to oil&; or online at

Citizens are asked to reference specific rule sections in the subject line.

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Cowspiracy, The Film

Tugg - Cowspiracy in Durham, NC on Thursday, August 14,  6:30PM

Promoted by Dilip Barman, Triangle Vegetarian Society

Thursday, August 14 6:30PM – 8:31PM

at AMC Southpoint 17 + IMAX
8030 Renaissance Pkwy suite 975, Durham, NC, 27713 (map)
$11.00 General

Pending This event will only happen if 18 more people reserve a ticket.


Deadline: August 07

03days 3h 35m 47s

The Event Program

  • Introduction
  • Movie presentation of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

    COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it. As eye-opening as Blackfish and as inspiring as An Inconvenient Truth, this shocking yet humorous documentary reveals the absolutely devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet.

    Read more +

  • Q&A

Event Info

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to see “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” on the big screen. Reserve your tickets now!

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Fracking activities, pro and con, gain momentum

Minus an approved budget, state geologists have yet to follow through on the General Assembly’s orders to collect rock samples in far Western North Carolina and test them for indications of natural gas.

In the meantime, fracking opponents across the region are organizing. In Jackson County, an anti-fracking meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 13, in the Community Room at the Jackson County Library.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill into law June 4 that allows gas exploration to begin in North Carolina as early as next spring.

“If they are allowed to do this we can kiss our wells goodbye,” said Bettie Ashby of Dillsboro. She is working with her sister, Ann Dunn, to coordinate the upcoming meeting in Jackson County. Another 10 to 14 people have expressed interest in forming the group, Ashby said.

Opponents fear fracking could contaminate drinking-water supplies. Supporters counter the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling is safe when done properly. Companies inject, at high pressure, a cocktail of chemicals and water into rock, shattering it. This allows them to extract natural gas through the fractures.

Geologists both on and off the state’s payroll discount the likelihood of natural gas being discovered in WNC. Despite the professional naysaying, when the Republican-dominated General Assembly in 2011 decided to fund a two-year assessment into the oil and gas potential in this state, the Precambrian rift basin – located here, in the far Western section of the state – was included.

The General Assembly appropriated only a portion of the money needed for the two-year assessment: $300,000, enough to fund the 2013-14 portion. Now, to complete the study, state leaders must designate an additional $250,000 for 2014-15. Collecting the rock samples from Jackson and the six other westernmost counties has a projected cost of $11,725.

Other unfunded priorities in the plan include assessments in the Triassic rift basin in Pasquotank, Bertie and Anson counties, plus well improvements and flow tests in Lee County.

The Lee County region where the Piedmont and Sandhills kiss has been described as the epicenter of likely fracking activity in North Carolina. There is a two-century history of coal mining in the Deep River shale basin. And, there is definitely methane, the primary component in natural gas. The graves in Lee County of more than 200 miners, killed in various mine explosions, attest to that fact.

Late last week, Republican leaders in the House and Senate announced they’d reached agreements on major sticking points in passing a budget – teacher pay and who-gets-Medicaid. This means rock sampling and other fracking-related work is set to begin, said Bridge Munger of the N.C. Department of Natural Resources.

“Sampling is expected to occur in the next few months,” she wrote in an email on Monday.

A contracted company will test the rock collected. High organic content is key; anything less than 1.4-percent total organic carbon means no natural gas potential exists. Findings above that threshold would trigger additional analysis.

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Shale Gas Protesters Sentenced to 15 Months for Violent Clash with Canadian RCMP

for information on how to support these two people see Reclaim Turtle Island

from CBC News

Aaron Francis (right) and Germain Junior Breau (left). From Warrior Publications.

Two anti-shale gas protesters have been sentenced to 15 months in jail in connection to a violent clash with police near Rexton, N.B., last fall.

Germain Junior Breau, 21, of Upper Rexton, N.B., and Aaron Francis, 20, of Eskasoni, N.S., were sentenced in Moncton provincial court on Tuesday on several charges.

An RCMP cruiser and another unmarked vehicle were among those destroyed during an anti-shale gas protest near Rexton, N.B., on Oct. 17. (Courtesy of Gilles Boudreau)

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EPA to Allow Consumption of Toxic Fracking Wastewater by Wildlife and Livestock

Reported on Nation of Change

Surface disposal of water produced by oil and gas drilling is forbidden in the Eastern U.S. but allowed in the arid West for purposes of “agricultural or wildlife propagation.”

Millions of gallons of water laced with toxic chemicals from oil and gas drilling rigs are pumped for consumption by wildlife and livestock with the formal approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to public comments filed yesterday by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Continue reading