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Haywood leaders weigh in on fracking fray

Haywood County commissioners have joined the growing ranks of local elected leaders to take a stand on fracking.


Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution this week calling on the state to reinstate a fracking ban until the environmental consequences could be adequately studied.

The resolution claims the state has moved too swiftly to open the door to fracking without first ensuring rules and policies are in place to protect the environment and public health.

Commissioner Kevin Ensley said he isn’t against fracking on principle, but said he wants the state to “step back and take a good look at the environmental hazards,” especially potential impacts to the groundwater table and drinking wells.

“If someone can’t drill a well, they can’t use their property,” Ensley said.

Commissioners also took issue with the state’s top-down stance that prevents individual counties from passing their own fracking rules.

“Local governments should have the authority to make decisions regarding environmental health and should have the right to pass legislation restricting fracking in our county should we so chose,” the resolution states.

Before voting, commissioners heard a brief presentation on the science of fracking and Southern Appalachian geological formations from Marc Pruett, the county’s erosion officer who is a geologist by training.

Given the unique fractured rock geology of the mountains, Pruett said it would be wise to proceed with caution in the fracking arena.