Residents take fracking concerns to county

Hyrdo-fracking has been a hot-button issue as of late, and with talks of preliminary rock testing scheduled to occur in Macon County, the public comment session held at the August 12 county commission meeting drew a room full of concerned citizens.

Local residents both opposed and in support of fracking, voiced their comments and concerns on the forthcoming hydro-fracturing industry that is set to begin next year in North Carolina.

Those against drilling for natural gas cited concerns with safety, environmental impact, and property rights.

“Fracking is a dangerous activity. You combine explosive gas, toxic chemicals, and heavy equipment—that’s by definition a hazardous activity,” John Gladden said.

“What’s the benefit of natural gas if our water and air are polluted,” asked resident Belinda Childs.

“What’s scary to me as a homeowner is if you don’t own the mineral rights on your property, then the fracking industry can come in and access your property,” said Larry Stenger.

However, some residents welcomed the practice of hydro-fracking, saying it has been proven safe and will spur the economy.

“It’s apparent that many people do not know that we’ve had fracking in North Carolina and in Macon County for many years with no problem. We already frack  the wells, it is good for employment, the economy, and I’m in favor,” Gail Chapman said.

“I’m here to speak in support of safe, clean, and regulated hydrologic-fracturing in North Carolina,” Vic Drummond said.

“The industry is heavily regulated with strict precautions,” Sonya Thompson told commissioners. “Shale gas will give us more jobs and more affordable energy.”

Commissioners did not take any action regarding fracking, which was approved by the legislature to begin July 1, 2015. Some local governments have passed resolutions showing opposition against the activity, including Franklin, Sylva, and Swain County.

The Mining and Energy Commission will host a public hearing on fracking at the Bardo Arts Center at Western Carolina University on September 12.