But the bill was vetoed by Perdue in June. The Senate has already overridden the veto, but the House has not.
Tucker said it might take another election cycle before the House can find the votes to overcome the veto.
“I just don’t understand why anyone would want to depend on the Middle East for energy,” he said.
The Senate recently commissioned the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to conduct a study to examine the potential effects of fracking in the state. The study is expected to be completed in April 2012.
The technology for fracking is not new. The state is following in the footsteps of others that are already open to fracking, said Rick Bolich, a hydrogeologist with the department.
However, North Carolina is geologically different than other states, he said.
“We can see what’s been done in other parts of the country,” Bolich said. “Certainly there have been mistakes made, and we can try and keep those mistakes from happening here.”
But those mistakes are a big concern for local environmentalists, who said the costs of fracking far outweigh its possible benefits.
The amount of water used in fracking is a cause for alarm, said Katie Hicks, assistant director of Clean Water for North Carolina.
“At drought time, it can be devastating, since the process uses such huge amounts of water,” she said. “Anything that we can do to conserve the water for people is really going to be more and more essential.”
But Tucker said he thinks fracking, if adopted in the state, would cease during a drought.
Hicks also said the process might contaminate groundwater, which is used for drinking water.
The water mixture used to break up rock contains a small amount of chemicals that could leak and contaminate the state’s aquifers, she said.
“There’s a specific concern for groundwater here, especially since there are so many groundwater (well) users in North Carolina,” she said.
So far, Hicks said she has been pleased by the public response to Clean Water’s fight against the bill.
“In general, the response has been pretty astounding,” she said.
Jose Rial, a professor of geophysics and climatology at UNC, said he doesn’t like the idea either.
Even though only small amounts of chemicals are used in the process, supporters of fracking shouldn’t dismiss the potential dangers, he said.
“That’s like saying Kools are good for you because they taste like mint,” Rial said.
But Tucker said possible contamination by chemicals used in fracking should not deter the process.
“Regrettably, if it happens, it happens,” he said. “When you have a crash, you don’t stop flying.
“We’ll continually improve the process.”
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