The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday December 3rd

Chapel Hill Public Library to screen documentary about fracking

Tonight at the Chapel Hill Public Library, a free screening of “Triple Divide,” a documentary highlighting the dangers of fracking, will open discussion about the possible impacts of fracking in North Carolina. 

Following the screening, commentator Sharon Brown and Rep. Jesse White, D-Pa., will discuss the role of state legislatures and industry in the regulation of fracking. 

“Triple Divide” focuses on fracking problems within Pennsylvania, where residents are faced with serious issues such as pollution and availability of groundwater and the industrialization of rural areas. Judith Ferster, the event coordinator and conservation chair of the Orange Chatham Sierra Club — organizing the event — said fracking results in a severe loss of natural habitat and an increase in air pollution — all issues that North Carolina might have to face in the near future. 

“It is important for North Carolinians to understand deeply what’s involved with fracking because it might start here as soon as 2015,” Ferster said. “The government has lifted the moratorium on fracking, and if we do start fracking we may see some of the same issues that we saw in Pennsylvania.”

Ferster said the screening of this documentary matches the group’s educational agenda.

“We seek to educate people about the environment,” Ferster said. “We hope that (viewers) see what the fracking implications are for people, neighborhoods and the environment after watching this film.”

Mark Bayles, assistant director at the Chapel Hill Public Library said the library seeks to foster meetings that bring locals closer together. 

“We’re a community organization and the library is intended for the opportunity for the community to gather and discuss ideas," Bayles said. 

Brown said she hopes to move the conversation away from politics and toward the possible economic consequences of fracking.

“We are trying to encourage a non-political based discussion about the film with more of a focus on the creation of jobs,” she said. “Most of the jobs that have been developed are low-level maintenance and custodial-type jobs while the technical, higher-level paying jobs are being taken by people in other gas drilling places. It is truly inappropriate to say that this is going to be a great boost to the local economy.”

Brown said the best way for people in North Carolina to handle the issue of fracking is to collaborate with the government and let them know what the community wants.

“We have an election coming up in November and they need to know exactly where their legislatures stand and make an effort to let them know how they feel,” Brown said.

Brown also said without significant action from communities, some governments would choose to follow their own agendas.

“(North Carolinians) need to make themselves aware of the high potential of fracking. No matter how much people say they don’t want it to happen, there are people with power that are pushing this through and will continue to push this through.” 

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