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Study group says NC should allow forced fracking

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

A panel commissioned by state government said Wednesday that forced fracking should be allowed in North Carolina.

Forced or compulsory pooling allows the state to let energy companies drill into natural gas reserves under non-consenting property owner's land. Property owners in the state receive a percentage of the profits from gas extracted from under their property.

The study group recommended at least 90 percent of acreage of a drilling area be voluntarily leased before remaining property owners are forcibly pooled.

The group also said they want safeguards that would make property owners forced into pools immune from lawsuits against accidents or other damages.

The U.S. Geological Survey said there is a 95 percent chance 779 billion cubic feet of natural gas exists in the Deep River Basin. Chatham, Lee and Moore Counties are in the Deep River Basin.

A law passed in July 2012 charged the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission with developing a program for the exploration of gas and the use of hydraulic fracturing.

According to the United State Environmental Protection Agency, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of pumping fluids in wells drilled thousands of feet into the ground to maximize the extraction of oil and gas.

"They could potentially be pooled against their will in certain rare circumstances," said Jim Womack, head of the commission. Womack said he believes pooling against the will of properties owner is fair.

Opponents voiced concerns at a meeting Wednesday of the Compulsory Pooling Study Group, which is part of the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission.

Property owner Debbie Hall said forced pooling is a "big violation of my rights."

Still, the commission moved forward.

Gov. Pat McCrory has spoken in favor of fracking and believes it would help create jobs in North Carolina and contribute to American energy independence.

The commission will recommend to the legislature that the law and the ability to get energy outweighs the concerns of land owners protesting the practice.

Jonathan Carlson

Jonathan is an investigative reporter and anchor with over a decade of experience. Jonathan has broken stories that have resulted in local and statewide change. Contact our Investigative Team anytime HERE. More>>

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