North Carolina editorial roundup

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 27, 2014 at 3:21 pm •  Published: May 27, 2014
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Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:

May 24

Fayetteville Observer on natural gas exploration:

We're reasonably comfortable with the notion that natural-gas exploration by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can be done safely.

But North Carolina's course to drilling, which is likely to begin in just over a year, makes us uncomfortable. We see little evidence that state leaders' rush to harvest underground gas supplies is putting health and safety first. Rather, we see lawmakers recognizing that they may have cut state taxes too deeply last year and now racing to grasp new revenue sources.

We also see influence following money, as it always does in politics. The petroleum industry has donated heavily to the campaigns of our governor and the Republican lawmakers whose majority in the General Assembly is leading the rush to unlock the natural gas in underground shale formations that center in Lee County.

As Observer reporter Andrew Barksdale reported in his six-part series on fracking last week, state regulators have learned from the problems they have seen in states that got into the gas business long before us. They have adopted fairly strong standards for drilling safety, but have nevertheless left some worrisome loopholes, like too-low bonding requirements for drillers and too-small buffers between drilling sites and private wells.

So far, the rule makers have stayed away from allowing injection of waste drilling fluids into underground caverns, but disposal of those fluids - billions of gallons will be used - is an issue.

An equally important concern is property rights, and that hasn't been adequately addressed. Will North Carolina allow "forced pooling," which says companies can drill under land against owners' wishes if a simple majority of landowners in an area approve?

And what about consumer protections? The fracking industry is rife with stories about "land men" who talk property owners into signing contracts that pay them a pittance for the gas they rightfully own. What will North Carolina do to protect landowners from getting ripped off?

Those are only a few of the questions and problems that this state should be addressing in its fracking regulations, and we fear that it won't get done in the General Assembly's almost-panicked hurry to allow drilling.

Slow down and get it right.

Online:

http://www.fayobserver.com

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May 25

Charlotte Observer on puppy mills:

Outlawing cruel treatment of dogs hardly seems controversial. The N.C. House didn't think so, passing a bill last year on an easy 101-14 vote.

Now the legislation sits stalled in the Senate, despite the wishes of the House, the governor, the first lady, the Humane Society and all advocates for common sense. It's not clear why, but neither of two stated reasons holds any water.

House Bill 930 is straightforward (read it yourself at www.ncleg.net; it's only two pages long). All it does is require large-scale breeders (those with 10 or more reproducing dogs) to provide the most basic care to their dogs. Things like food and water. Keeping them in cages big enough where they can stand up. Not confining them with so much feces that they get sick. We're not talking about the Waldorf-Astoria here.

Critics say they're worried the bill could be a slippery slope toward putting burdensome regulations on the agricultural industry. That phantom fear is a reason to allow dog abuse? As first lady Ann McCrory says, "Even our dog Moe knows the difference between a hog and a dog."