Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a method of natural gas exploration that involves using a mixture of water and chemicals to pump natural gas to the surface. The N.C. General Assembly passed a law earlier this year allowing for hydraulic fracturing in the state.
Proponents contend that fracking is safe and will provide a source of both energy and jobs. Critics â€” which include a unanimous Swain commission â€” argue that the practice raises environmental concerns about issues such as groundwater contamination.
â€śWe are opposed because we have 14 percent of the land base thatâ€™s taxable land,â€ť said Commissioner David Monteith of his public-land heavy county. â€śIf they get in here and drill and screw up the water table for our little olâ€™ 14 percent â€¦ we didnâ€™t feel like they ought to be getting in here screwing up what little private land we have.â€ť
In addition to Swain County, local governing bodies with Jackson County have also passed anti-fracking resolutions. In July, first Webster and then Sylva town boards passed resolutions. In August, Forest Hills officials will consider a similar resolution.
The resolutions are entirely symbolic. The newly passed state law stipulates that local governments have no authority to ban fracking.
â€śThe state legislature has taken our power away as far as local jurisdictions,â€ť King said, â€śbut weâ€™re just trying to make everybody aware.â€ť