Hitting The Wrong Button: Fracking Is Now Legal In NC

Ken AshfordEnergy and Conservation, Environment & Global Warming & Energy, Local Interest1 Comment

First, a little background on "fracking".

Fracking is media term applied to a process known as Hydraulic Fracturing. It is a process that creates fractures in rocks to force natural gas, water, and oil reserves trapped 5,000 to 20,000 feet below the earth up to the surface. Hydraulic fractures may occur naturally, via volcanic dikes, sills, ice; or they can be man-made by injecting a proppant (like crains of sand, ceramic, or other particulates) or fracturing fluid, into a borehole deep underground in formation rock, to increase pressure enough to fracture the formation rock.

Fracking is a process used to harvest and extract water, natural gas, and oil reserves in targeted formations deep within the earth. The fracture is then “propped” by sand higher in permeability than the surrrounding rock, and formation fluids are then pumped to the surface. Fracking is also often used to dispose toxic waste into underground formations.


Fracking is highly controversial due to significant environmental, safety, and health risks. The biggest risks of fracking involve: the potential contamination of groundwater aquifers with fracturing chemicals or waste fluids and the migration of gasses and fracturing chemicals.  If these chemicals migrate to water supplies, it can contaminate huge populations, as well as farming areas, and nature.

So naturally, many people are against (except Republicans who deny there is any problem).

Here in North Carolina, a bill passed the legislature which permitted fracking.

Fortunately, the governor vetoed the bill.  It was therefore necessary, if the law was going to be valid, that the NC legislature override the veto by 2/3rds majority.

The vote to override the veto was last night, and it was close.

And then the unthinkable: Rep. Becky Carney, who opposes fracking, hit the wrong button when voting.  Instead of sustaining the governor's veto, she voted to overturn the governor's veto:

The vote was 72-47, exactly the number needed for an override. Without Carney's vote, the veto would have been sustained. 

Carney characterized her vote as "very accidental."

"It is late. Here we are rushing to make these kind of decisions this time of night," she said.

Carney pointed out that she has voted against fracking in the past, and said she spent the day lobbying other Democrats to uphold the veto of Senate Bill 820.

"And then I push the green button," she said.

Just after the vote, Carney's voice could be heard on her microphone, saying "Oh my gosh. I pushed green."

Carney said she turned her light on, but Speaker Thom Tillis would not recognize her, so she went to the front to speak to him.

"I made a mistake, and I tried to get recognized to change it, as people have been doing all night on other bills, and it was too late," Carney said. "Because it would have changed the outcome of the vote."

So fracking is now NC law.