Stokes County Residents Ask Commissioners For Local Fracking Regulations

Stokes County Residents Ask Commissioners For Local Fracking Regulations

3:59am Jul 28, 2015

A large crowd filled the  Stokes County Commissioners chamber Monday evening to express their concerns about fracking, and its possible effects on drinking water.

That’s because a recent core sample taken near the Walnut Tree community points to the possibility of shale gas in the county.

Mary Kerley lives in Pine Hall, the heart of the Dan River Shale Basin. She’s also a member of the organization NoFrackinginStokes.org. She was one of 27 people who spoke at the meeting Monday. Kerley  says she worries about the impact natural gas drilling could have on residents who rely on well water for their homes and agriculture.

Her group wants the County Commission to take action now, by putting safeguards in place. “ No local entity can stop or prevent fracking, can’t engender any kind of ordinance or zoning that will prevent fracking, but there are other things that can be done. For instance,a vertical setback from the aquifers could be set at 5,000 feet which would serve to protect our drinking water,” says Kerley.

A majority of commissioners told the Winston-Salem Journal that they support considering some type of local ordinance that would offer more protections against possible harmful effects of fracking than those provided by state environmental rules.

State geologist Dr. Kenneth Taylor recently met with leadership in his department and state officials to discuss the drilling test in Stokes County. He says even though the samples point to the gas deep underground, it could take a while before anyone knows how much reserves are available.  “We know it’s organic rich but now it’s a matter of sending it off to be tested,” says Taylor.

“The General Assembly gave us money to drill and collect the core samples but didn’t give us enough money to process those samples and when you come to making estimates on reserves, there will need to be a whole lot more drilling that will be required to make reserve estimates,” he says.  “We are just talking about resource estimates.”

The North Carolina Geological Survey will release a public report about the Walnut Cove core sample and another one taken in the Cumberland County area sometime in early August.

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