Senate Bill 709, the so-called Energy Jobs Act, is less about jobs and more about threatening North Carolina’s groundwater supply and shorelines. The bill is a two-pronged assault on our state’s waters, both inland and off the coast. While the bill encourages oil and gas exploration and drilling in federal waters off the North Carolina coast, experts estimate that the BP oil spill in the Gulf will result in one million permanently lost jobs. That is a very large risk for uncertain payoffs. North Carolina should not allow the same actions that led to the BP spill off our pristine coastline. There are more jobs and fewer risks associated with investments in renewable energy than in fossil fuel exploration.
S709 also requires the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to conduct a natural gas fracking study, despite a recent report from Duke University showing elevated levels of methane in groundwater at fracking sites. Residents of Pennsylvania, Texas, and across the Midwest have seen what fracking can do to water supplies. They are finding methane and toxic chemicals in their drinking water that can cause it catch on fire. North Carolina should be able to learn from these other states’ mistakes.