RALEIGH — After returning almost $600,000 of federal grants to study environmental protection has sparked controversy, N.C. environmental officials are defending their decision.
Earlier this month, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources returned two grants to the Environmental Protection Agency that were awarded in June.
One grant allocated $222,595 to identify and collect baseline water testing data from wetlands and streams where hydraulic fracturing — better known as fracking — is most likely to occur.
What is Fracking?
Fracking consists of drilling and injecting a mix of water, sand and chemicals into shale rock formations to release trapped natural gas.
The process is controversial: Opponents say the process could lead to environmental contamination, but advocates say it could spur job creation in the state.
On Friday, Division of Water Resources Director Tom Reeder defended the return of the grant before the Mining and Energy Commission, the group charged with state rules on fracking.
“I find when you get in these types of discussions when there’s a lot of accusations being made, it’s good to inject a little reality into the discussion now and again,” Reeder told the commission.