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 — which include a unanimous Swain commission — argue that the practice raises environmental concerns about issues such as groundwater contamination.
“We are opposed because we have 14 percent of the land base that’s taxable land,” said Commissioner David Monteith of his public-land heavy county. “If they get in here and drill and screw up the water table for our little ol’ 14 percent … we didn’t feel like they ought to be getting in here screwing up what little private land we have.”
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.
“The state legislature has taken our power away as far as local jurisdictions,” King said, “but we’re just trying to make everybody aware.”