Natural Gas - Fracking
The marked increase in earthquakes in the central U.S. is "almost certainly" being caused by fracking, according to a new study. WikiCommons

The North Carolina Senate could begin debating that state's first piece of legislation to allow hydraulic fracturing in oil-and-gas drilling next week.

After discussion in the state Senate Commerce Committee this week, Senate Bill 820, or SB 820, could make its way onto the Senate floor next week. Its counterpart is progressing through the state House of Representatives Environmental Committee, according to Laura White, a blogger for the Raleigh (N.C.) Public Record.

SB 820 would make hydraulic fracturing legal in the state if both houses of the General Assembly believe enough regulations are put in place to govern the controversial oil-and-gas drilling process.

If fracking is allowed in North Carolina, the state would join Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wyoming, and Colorado, where the energy industry is booming, primarily fueled by natural-gas drilling.

North Carolina has known deposits of natural gas trapped in coal beds and shale formations in the heart of the state. It has more than 59,000 acres of possible exploration area, according to the North Carolina Geological Survey.

Hydraulic fracturing involves the pumping of millions of gallons of water, sand, and drilling chemicals down into a well at very high pressure. The pressure fractures underground rock formations, which releases the crude oil or natural gas trapped within.