NC Farming Community

Hydraulic Fracturing, or ‘fracking’ has been front and center at the North Carolina General Assembly the past couple of weeks, and Paul Sherman, Air & Energy Programs Director for North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation has been in the front row taking in the debate:

“We feel that the General Assembly has done a good job of trying to build in those protections into the regulations that they’re trying to develop, and it’s certainly a very long process. The statue that they’re’ working on now simply sets up the process for developing the process, and there’s certainly lots more work to be done. But, we feel that the frame work that they’re putting forth right now will eventually lead to a very highly regulated program, that will be very beneficial to the state as well as protective of our water supplies.”

North Carolina land owners are not accustomed to having people approach them discussing the leasing of mineral rights to their property according to Sherman:

“One of the things that the general assembly has looked at is regulating those what they call ‘land men’, that would be those advance folks that come out and look to try to start the leasing process. And what seems to be the direction that the General Assembly is heading is really to put together some protections from an educational standpoint; one, sort of a required landowner’s rights brochure or document that has to be presented to landowners from the folks that are coming out looking to do these mineral leases so that landowners can be better educated about their mineral rights.”

And when a landowner is approached by a so-called ‘land man’, Sherman has this advice:

“Certainly, really landowners should look at this like any other real estate transaction. And by all means, they should contact their attorneys. We certainly don’t recommend any landowner moving forward in signing a lease without having an attorney…their attorney look over the lease with them so that they do know what they’re talking about. First and foremost landowners really need to make sure that they protect their interest, and it’s best done through an attorney.”

And according to Sherman, the General Assembly is working to protect landowners:

“They also seem to be working toward setting up some protections as to what they leases can and cannot contain as well as how long the leases are valid. In some cases there may be leases that would be almost perpetual, but right now, the General Assembly seems to be heading in a direction of limiting those to ten or so years, so that if they do have an unfavorable lease, there will be an opportunity to remedy that.”

But, one thing to keep in mind…natural gas prices are not attractive to speculators right now, and haven’t been for quite some time. Sherman says that if in fact approved for North Carolina, hydraulic fracturing is many years away:

“We certainly wouldn’t anticipate any drilling activities taking place for quite some time, the bill that’s moving through the General Assembly now and being finalized, really just sets up the regulatory framework, it does make hydraulic fracturing legal, but it does not allow the Department of

Environment and Natural Resources to issue any permits for drilling until the General Assembly comes back and actually authorizes those permits to be issued.”

Paul Sherman, Air & Energy Programs Director for NC Farm Bureau. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.