Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Walnut Cove OKs 3-year fracking ban

Anti-fracking signs sprouted along the quiet streets of Walnut Cove in April, in response to the possibility that oil companies would soon sink fracking wells to extract oil and natural gas.
David Rolfe/Journal
By Bertrand M. Gutiérrez Winston-Salem Journal:

WALNUT COVE — No fracking will be permitted here for three years under a moratorium given final approval Tuesday by the Walnut Cove commissioners.

Fracking opponents who packed the meeting room applauded the vote.

“You said, ‘Bring the public.’ The public’s here,” the Rev. Gregory Hairston said.

The oil-and-gas moratorium “sends a message to Raleigh that they don’t run this town,” he said earlier, during the invocation. Later, during the meeting, Hairston said: “We don’t have to let the state dictate to us how we run our government.”

Others are watching what happens in Walnut Cove.

“This is an environmental issue. This is not a political issue,” said Ira Tilley, a Republican who lives in Rockingham County. “We have it on our agenda … and Lee County is getting ready to do it next week. That ought to send a strong message to Raleigh.”

Stokes, Chatham and Anson counties have passed similar moratoria.

The vote here comes four months after state geologists said there may be signs of shale oil or gas in the area, according to samples taken from a sliver of town property in the Walnut Tree neighborhood, which sits outside the town.

In the spring, the commissioners’ vote to allow the state to use town property to collect the samples riled fracking opponents. In their view, the commissioners should not have let state geologists use the property because there was no telling what it could lead to. If the samples showed an abundance of shale resources, then they could have been used to market the area to energy-sector companies.

As it turns out, the samples showed the risks. If shale resources do exist, they lie near aquifers that provide drinking water to wells.

Commissioner Sharon Conaway defended the vote: “It was the right decision. … It could be the core sample info … that actually saves us.”
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