On July 2, the North Carolina state Senate and House of Representatives voted to override the veto of Gov. Bev Perdue of a bill that would legalize fracing in the state.
This was a win for oil and gas advocates in a state not known for its production of oil or gas. However, the availability of shale in the state and the need for jobs drove the legislators to override the veto by a margin of 29-13 in the Senate and 72-47 in the House.
But, the bill would not have passed without a mistake by state Rep. Becky Carney, D-Charlotte, who apparently could not tell the difference between the green (yes) and red (no) buttons on her desk.
Carney cast the deciding vote to override the veto, then literally ran to House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenberg, to try to change her vote.
However, according to House rules, a vote cannot be changed if it affects the outcome. Carney now has to live with her vote.
The fracing legislation was among the most controversial bills in front of the state legislature. The debate for and against the bill has raged on for some time.
Since no fracing or horizontal drilling has been done in the state, there are no rules and regulations in place to guide companies. The bill includes language requiring another legislative vote to allow permits after environmental regulations are in place in 2014.
Someone must have been looking out for the E&P industry if one legislator saw red over giving the green light to fracing.
Speaking of red and green lights, the US House of Representatives is continuing its efforts to open up new areas for exploration. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., is trying to get some information out of the Department of the Interior (DOI) over its offshore leasing moratorium.
In a July 6 letter to DOI Secretary Ken Salazar, Hastings wrote, “To date, no one at the Department or the White House has answered questions or fully explained the circumstances that led to imposition of the economically devastating six-month moratorium without any scientific support or the inclusion of the misleading peer review language in the Drilling Moratorium Report.
“For more than three months, the department has flouted a duly authorized and issued Congressional subpoena for documents that would shed light on these actions, which led to thousands of lost jobs and decreased American energy production in the Gulf of Mexico,” he continued.
He issued a subpoena demanding that five DOI officials at the time come before the Committee on Natural Resources during the week of July 16.
“The limited number of documents that have been made available largely concern communications with the peer reviewers, but not the internal deliberations within the department or the White House that would shed light on the moratorium decision or how the Drilling
Moratorium Report was edited to mischaracterize the peer reviewers’ work,” the letter stated.
“The documents suggest the officials to be interviewed would be able to shed light on questions central to this investigation, including whether political appointees used the peer reviewers as ‘over,’ as some of the peer reviewers had wondered in emails to department officials, to justity the economically devastating moratorium,” Hastings said.
The committee wants to interview Steve Black, counselor to the secretary, Neal Kemkar, Black’s former special assistant, Mary Katherine Ishee, former deputy administrator, Minerals Management Service, Walter Cruickshank, former deputy administrator, Minerals Management Service, and Kallie Hanley, former White House liaison and special assistant.
It is one more form of pressure that the Republican House is putting on President Barack Obama’s administration over offshore leasing. We will see how effective it is.
Contact the author, Scott Weeden, at email@example.com.
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