The Union of Concern Scientists says it well: “A convergence of factors is driving our society towards greater reliance on natural gas as a source of energy. An increased focus on the potential reductions in carbon emissions and air pollution from burning natural gas instead of coal or oil have made natural gas an environmentally attractive alternative to other fossil fuels. Concurrently, improved techniques for extracting unconventional sources of gas have dramatically raised estimates of the U.S.’s available gas resource.”
For North Carolina this means exploration of its shale gas reserves and the potential for extracting this gas through the process of hydraulic fracturing.
Session Law 2011-276 requires the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in cooperation with the Department of Commerce, Department of Transportation, Attorney General’s Office and Rural Advancement Foundation International, to conduct a study of the potential development of shale gas in North Carolina and make recommendations regarding the regulatory framework necessary for development of this resource. The study must be presented to the legislature by May 1, 2012 and at least two public hearings on this issue will be held in the Triassic Basin where approximately 80,000 acres have been deemed to contain a commercially viable reserve of natural gas.
The webcast from the first public hearing, held on October 10th in Sanford (Lee County) about the oil and gas study being conducted by DENR is available and includes information about hydraulic fracturing in general as well as an overview of shale gas resources in NC. The presentation is also available for download and includes slides you may find useful when teaching about this topic.
For those of you teaching in counties in the Triassic Basin that are under consideration in this study, your students may be interested in listening to and summarizing the public comments and concerns encountered during the webcast which start around 44 minutes into the 2 hour public hearing.