On June 04, 2014, Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina signed a bill into law allowing hydraulic fracking within the state, lifting a moratorium that has blocked fracking permits since 2012. Fracking in North Carolina can begin as early as next year.

Gov. McCrory signed the Energy Modernization Act of 2014 at an event at North Carolina State University after the bill passed through the state House (64-50) and Senate (33-12) during the preceding week. The bill was introduced by three Republican state senators, Sens. Bob Rucho, E.S. Newton, and Andrew C. Brock. Republicans lead both the House and Senate in North Carolina.
The state’s Mining and Energy Commission is working on finalizing fracking regulations. Once regulations are complete, the Act will allow for the issuance of permits without additional approval.

The Act also prevents local governments from adopting “any local ordinance that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting oil and gas exploration, development, and production.” It further criminalizes the disclosure of fracking chemicals or substances used by oil and gas companies. Anyone who knowingly or negligently releases this information may face a felony conviction or civil damages. However, the bill creates an exception for providing information to “first responders and medical personnel in the event that the information is deemed necessary to address an emergency.”

McCrory stated the law will spur economic development at all levels of North Carolina’s economy, and that it contains safeguards to protect the environment. According to his statement, a 2013 poll conducted by Harris Interactive found that the majority of state voters favored fracking.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson (barclay.nicholson@nortonrosefulbright.com or 713.651.3662) from Norton Rose Fulbright’s Energy Practice Group.