Carolina Journal Radio’s Mitch Kokai had the opportunity recently to talk with Dr. Vikram Rao, executive director of the Research Triangle Energy Consortium and author of the book Shale Gas: The Promise and the Peril. They discussed the potential for North Carolina’s shale gas deposits and the extraction process known as fracking.
Kokai: Before we started the interview, you mentioned that there’s been a lot of discussion on topics that are either off point or not cognizant of the actual facts of the situation. What’s one of the biggest myths about shale gas or fracking?
Rao: Probably one of the biggest myths is that fracking is responsible for flaming faucets, if you will. It’s well-known that there are natural gas incursions into freshwater from natural circumstances; this is well-known. So if somebody publishes something to the effect that there is a methane intrusion in freshwater, they have to show a baseline. Otherwise, it really isn’t proven because it might have been there in the first place.
So there are some very simple remedies to all of this. One remedy is that before you actually do any drilling, you do baseline testing of nearby water wells. And this is very straightforward.
Kokai: North Carolina is looking into this process, and I understand that you’re playing a role as this is moving forward. How has the state done so far in this early stage in addressing shale gas and the proper way to move forward with it? Are we on the right track in terms of how we’re addressing it? Are there some other things that we need to do?
Rao: This is a good point for me to point out that my remarks here are as an individual, not as a member of the [North Carolina] Mining and Energy Commission. So going back to your question, the legislature has given instructions, which I think are pretty comprehensive. While they have stated an intent to definitely have fracking — which by the way is not that big a deal, because every state in the union allows fracking, other than Vermont, which is a bit of a joke actually, because they don’t have any gas. This is like Texas outlawing maple tree sap production. So given the fact that fracking is permitted, [that] doesn’t really mean anything.
So I think that allowing fracking is perfectly fine. It does not necessarily mean that even it will happen. But at any rate, yes, the instruction that the legislature has given, I think is comprehensive and is intended to permit commerce while protecting the environment and the people.
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