By Elizabeth E. Payne
On Nov. 10, the commissioners of Walnut Cove, N.C., passed a three-year moratorium on fracking, another action in a lengthy tug-of-war between state and local officials over who has power to regulate the expansion of fracking into the state.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a method of drilling to extract natural gas that causes significant impact to the environment. Since 2012, the legislature has steadily worked to ease restrictions to fracking in North Carolina, while community members have pushed to block this access.
On Sept. 30, just days after Stokes County passed a three-year moratorium on fracking, the N.C. General Assembly approved a bill that makes such ordinances more difficult to enforce. The measure also temporarily halted efforts by local governments to pass new measures blocking fracking in their communities.
Despite the new law, in November the town of Walnut Cove and Rockingham County each passed multi-year moratoriums. Lee County took a similar vote, but without unanimous support a second vote will be taken on Dec. 7.
Anti-fracking measures have also passed in the towns of Creedmoor and Bakersville, and in Anson and Chatham Counties.