Courtesy: North Carolina Dept. of Environment & Natural Resources
Greensboro, NC -- North Carolina is taking a look at what natural gas drilling would mean for the state.
According to the N.C. Geological Survey, there is a reserve of natural gas underneath the Sanford Sub-Basin, which spans Lee, Chatham and Moore counties.
The scientists also believe there is natural gas underneath the Dan River Basin in Rockingham and Stokes counties.
By North Carolina law, drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the process known as "fracking," is illegal. However, it's the only way to get to the natural gas.
So, the General Assembly has directed the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources to study what the impact of drilling could be.
The scientists are taking a look at the environmental issues, like the impact on water resources and water quality, the social impact and the economic impact.
States like Pennsylvania are already a hotbed of drilling activity and opposition. So, the scientists are also looking closely at what's happening there.
Diana Kees, Communications Director at NCDENR said the group just got back from Pennsylvania, where they visited drilling sites, talked to people who have been impacted by drilling and regulators.
Currently, the scientists are finishing their draft study. Then, they will hold two public meetings to get feedback.
The NCDENR will present the final draft, including the public comments, to the General Assembly by May 1, 2012.
"It's really important to get all the facts together broadly, not just on the environmental but the economic and social impacts as well, so that the general assembly can have that information as they decide how to go forward with this," said Kees.
Kees said there is no drilling yet, but some gas companies have already tried to put leases in place in Lee County.
Most of the land where the drilling could take place is private, but some states, where drilling is legal, are making money on the taxes and fees they impose on drilling companies.
The first public meeting is March 20 at the Wicker Center in Sanford from 6:30 to 9:30pm.
The second public meeting is March 27 in the auditorium of East Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill from 6:30 to 9:30pm.
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