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For the first time, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources has said it plans to study a site in Western North Carolina to assess its feasibility for hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” The exact location of the site has not been disclosed.
The study plan was revealed Nov. 13 in testimony by DENR Assistant Secretary for the Environment Mitch Gillespie, a former state representative from McDowell County who is a major fracking proponent, before the state legislature’s Environmental Review Commission. (See a copy of Gillespie’s presentation below.)
Mitch Gillespie, a longtime fracking proponent from Marion, resigned his state House seat in January to take a senior post in the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Last week, he announced a small fracking study planned for a site in WNC. Photo courtesy N.C. General Assembly.
As part of an “update on energy issues” for the commission, Gillespie presented a provisional list of fracking-feasibility studies that DENR plans to conduct. Most of the sites on the list are located in the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain, areas of the state previously identified as the ones most likely to hold deposits of natural gas that could be extracted by fracking. But the list included a rare mention of a site in the mountain area, identified only as a “precambrian rift basin” in “western NC.”