Richmond County residents who want to weigh in on proposed fracking regulations can do so at one of four upcoming meetings.
The N.C. Mining and Energy Commission will hold public comment meetings in Sanford, Raleigh, Reidsville and Cullowhee in the coming weeks to seek input on rules for oil and gas exploration.
A small section of northwestern Richmond County is built atop the Deep River Basin, a triassic basin that could be subject to test drilling for shale gas. Portions of Anson and Montgomery counties also are included in the basin.
Gov. Pat McCrory signed the Energy Modernization Act into law Wednesday, reversing a 2012 moratorium that blocked hydraulic fracturing permits in North Carolina. Permits could be issued as early as spring 2015.
Environmental groups are urging residents to attend the meetings and voice their concerns.
“Never has there been a set of rules that could impact as many communities across North Carolina as these draft oil and gas rules now open for public comment,” Hope Taylor of Clean Water for North Carolina said in a statement. “From the experiences of dozens of states where fracking is happening, we know that the oil and gas industry could affect air quality, water quality, landowner rights and costs to our local governments. The risks to most of us far outweigh the benefits to a few.”
The public comment period for the draft oil and gas rules opened July 15 and will continue through Sept. 30.
Rules under consideration include the controversial chemical dsclosure” Rule, which would only allow specific officials access to trade secret information for chemicals used in fracking and gas development, and require a “confidentiality agreement” for health providers and emergency responders, according to Clean Water for North Carolina.
How far gas wells will need to be located from buildings and water supplies, and requirements for inspections are just a few of the more than 120 rules that the public can comment on.
The nearest public comment meeting to Richmond County is planned from 5-9 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Wicker Civic Center, 1801 Nash St. in Sanford.
Meetings also are planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 20 at N.C. State University’s McKimmon Center in Raleigh, 5-9 p.m. Aug. 25 at Rockingham County High School in Reidsville and 5-9 p.m. Sept. 12 at Western Carolina University’s Bardo Performing Arts Center in Cullowhee.