Fracking could come to North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Could drilling for natural gas with fracking lead to earthquakes, and could the danger come here?

The answer is yes.

And when Keith Wilson heard that, he immediately started worrying about his children.

"In Oklahoma, they're seeing earthquakes for the first time in a major way and they're testing the data to see if it's correlated to the fracking," Wilson says.

Today, federal experts said they do have evidence that fracking carries a risk of triggering earthquakes. Other scientists disagree, but it's disturbing to hear on the day after the North Carolina House approved a bill that would legalize fracking here.

This is how it works: Companies drill down through bedrock to what's called "shale". They then pump a water mixture into the crevice, and that forces cracks to form in the shale, releasing gas trapped inside.

That natural gas will be a crucial source of energy in the future. Tapping it today will create a ton of jobs.

But protestors recently took to the streets in Raleigh concerned that chemicals used in the process will poison our water.

That was the biggest concern, before the earthquake debate. Still, there are others.

"One is it does release methane mercury and arsenic into the air, which people breathe around the area, especially the children," Wilson says. "Children are more exposed than adults because they breathe in more air per pound. They mouth breathe more. They put hand to mouth more and their brains aren't fully developed."

The House bill just passed in Raleigh does include safeguards not found in a version approved by the Senate last week, including the addition of two elected officials to a board regulating fracking. Previously, the Board was mainly made up of oil and gas industry reps.

But there's one more big concern Wilson's been writing our leaders about.

"I've seen estimates from five million gallons per well to frack, and water is very dear," he says. "We just came out of a drought in North Carolina."