August 22, 2011
Contact: Chris Liu-Beers
Program Associate, NCCC
Mineral Rights Project Coordinator, RAFI-USA
The Rural Life Committee of the North Carolina Council of Churches has issued a statement supporting the ban on hydraulic drilling in the state. Citing the lack of research on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, the experiences of rural landowners affected by gas drilling, and the potential impacts on rural communities, the committee warned that the risk posed by “fracking” is unacceptably high. The committee also warned about the dangers of exploitation.
“With this statement, the Rural Life Committee recognizes all of the gifts that rural communities bring to the table,” said Council Program Associate Chris Liu-Beers. “Every day, we’re learning more about how rural communities’ health and well-being could be jeopardized by fracking. It’s critical that we maintain North Carolina’s current ban on fracking until we really understand all the implications for our land, water and health. In the meantime, we advise all landowners to speak with a lawyer and take time to explore all the options before signing any mineral rights leases with energy companies.”
The arrival of natural gas companies seeking mineral rights leasing for future natural gas drilling in rural North Carolina communities has raised concerns about predatory contracts, landowner rights, and potential impacts to citizens’ quality of life in counties believed to have natural gas reserves.
Since early 2010 natural gas landmen have been approaching landowners with mineral rights contracts which offer inadequate compensation and few landowner protections from possible impacts to farm and forest lands, drinking water, and rural infrastructure. With little objective information available to landowners in North Carolina, many are signing predatory mineral rights leases without legal counsel which may place significant financial risk on landowners.
The North Carolina Council of Churches is a statewide organization representing 18 Christian denominations and committed to the twin goals of ecumenism and social justice. More than 1.5 million North Carolinians are members of congregations under the Council’s umbrella.