Section 6: The Social Reaction

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We continue to break down the 444-page DENR report on fracking. Have a specific fracking question you want us to address? Email lwhite@raleighpublicrecord.org or Tweet @lewhite.

Section 6 of the housing report delves a little bit more into the social issues that could arise if North Carolina proceeds with fracking. I talked a little bit in the last post about how this could affect housing. This section really dives into that, so if you’re interested, make sure you check it out. It covers issues such as increased demand in water supply, potential overpopulation in schools and the possible construction of temporary modular housing, known as “man camps.”

It also talks about the potential impacts on property values. Several states, including Colorado, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania were studied, and the outcome varies from state to state, making it hard to determine how drilling will affect North Carolina’s housing market.

In Colorado, the statewide drop in property list prices was six percent, while the decline in the top 10 gas-producing counties was 19 percent.

In Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, the numbers did the opposite: statewide decline was seven and 21 percent, respectively, while the top 10 gas-producing county prices actually increased seven and 18 percent.

But the comparison is, once again, limited, because there could be common characteristics not controlled for in the analysis, such as quality of life, economic and social factors.

This section also discusses increased traffic and damage to existing roads, as well as the increased potential of accidents. Because of the nature of the material being transported (liquid chemicals, fresh water, wastewater), the report also points out that these traffic accidents would be more complex and time-consuming than typical one or two-car accidents.

In states like Pennsylvania, these differences have increased the demands on local police. Some areas have also seen an increase in crime rates, putting an additional strain on law enforcement.

There’s also been a increase in the requirements for emergency services in come oil and gas drilling regions. Because of the specialized nature of the spills, explosions and fires related to the natural gas industry, this increase in demand also calls for new equipment, training and staff.

The report points out that being prepared for such specialized accidents is necessary in advance, and recommends that oil and gas operators be required to develop emergency response plans.

The report also pushes the General Assembly to encourage the Department of Labor to review its ability to appropriately inspect drilling sites and enforce OSHA standards within the natural gas industry.

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