SELC: NC Piedmont One Of The Top 10 Endangered Places of 2012

North Carolina Piedmont

NC Piedmont | Photo: ©Kevin Adams


Rural lands in the North Carolina Piedmont and drinking water sources for some 2.4 million people


Pressure to repeal a law that thus far has kept “fracking” wells out of North Carolina.

Requiring the high-pressure injection of water, sand, and a stew of chemicals into shale formations, the use of hydraulic fracturing—a.k.a. “fracking”—to extract natural gas has been linked to groundwater contamination, pollution in lakes and rivers, even earthquakes. A study by Duke University scientists found methane concentrations 17 times above normal, on average, in samples taken from water wells near fracking sites.

The gas drilling industry and its political allies are pushing hard to bring this controversial process to North Carolina’s rural Piedmont. The only thing standing in their way is a state law that bans horizontal drilling, which thus far has kept hydraulic fracturing in check. If pro-fracking forces succeed in repealing the ban, state regulators will face enormous new challenges for protecting the Piedmont’s land and water.

Even with the ban in place, gas companies have snapped up scores of leases for potential drilling sites in Piedmont counties that overlie the state’s Triassic Basins, a shale-rich geologic formation that stretches from the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) to the South Carolina state line. These properties would be transformed into 24-7 industrial operations, with gas flaring, bright lights, and a steady stream of trucks carrying equipment, water, and waste.

An SELC analysis shows that potential gas formations in the Triassic Basins are underneath or upstream from public drinking water supplies for 2.4 million people. Gas drilling could also affect the quantity of water available to the state’s citizens. A single fracking well can require as much as 5 million gallons, much of which comes back to the surface as chemical-laden flowback that must be either trucked away to treatment facilities or stored onsite. According to a draft EPA study, fracking chemicals have been detected in groundwater near disposal pits and wells.

Congress has exempted fracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, leaving it largely to the states to police this industry. North Carolina, which has slashed the budget of its environmental agency by more than a third, will be hard-pressed to provide adequate protection for the state’s waters and rural lands.  

For more information about this endangered area, visit our casepage: Fracking in North Carolina?


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One response to “SELC: NC Piedmont One Of The Top 10 Endangered Places of 2012

  1. It is disgusting that we have laws on the books to protect our land, and the laws are not worth the paper they are printed on due to deep pockets and their greed. I wonder if they will cry when their child, parent, spouse, or other family member dies because they were poisoned by water,or something they ate that was contaminated with fracking liquids.Or will they just say well that’s the price you have to pay for your wealth. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. But my problem, I LOVE MY children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. I don’t want to go to their funerals. I’m 64 years old. Please vote NO TO FRACKING NC. I know the deep pockets don’t care about me at least till they need my vote. I hope they take a good long hard look in their children’s and grandchildren’s eyes before they vote Against every person in North Carolina. It just may be the last time they see those smiling eyes and faces. Because the DEAD don’t smile. And also remember, WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND 10 FOLD.

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