“Goin’ to Carolina in My Mind:” Prospects and Perils for Natural Gas Drilling in North Carolina

June 9, 2012

The hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies utilized in the extraction of natural gas have proven controversial, particularly in states where the legal infrastructure is unprepared to accommodate the industry. In particular, a newly discovered natural gas reservoir in central North Carolina highlights deficiencies in the state’s laws addressing the serious environmental and public health concerns regarding impacts on the water supply. Looking to other natural gas-producing states as models, North Carolina should adopt statutory measures to protect its water in anticipation of a natural gas industry. Specifically, a severance tax on the production of natural gas in North Carolina should be collected to fund the acquisition of land. This, together with other precautionary measures, would alleviate the negative impacts to water quality and quantity, should natural gas development come to fruition.