Hydraulic Fracturing

The Board of Directors of the North Carolina Academy of Science Statement on

Horizontal Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing ("Fracking") in North Carolina

During the last decade, the use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (also called "hydrofracking," or "fracking") has increased rapidly in several states. These technologies have enabled the gas industry to extract natural gas (or shale gas) from impermeable rock formations by injecting large volumes of fluid (water, plus sand and chemicals) to fracture the rock. Natural gas has been touted as a transitional fuel or "bridge fuel" 1 to an energy future that is carbon free and based on renewable sources of energy. Fracking is not without controversy, however, and has potentially detrimental effects on the environment, society, and human health.2 The state of North Carolina presently has no oil and gas industry and no prior experience managing these industries. Recent discussions and proposals in the North Carolina legislature indicate interest in encouraging development of these resources.

In July 2012, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified the Clean Energy and Economic Security Act, or Session Law 2012-143.3 This Act requires "the Mining and Energy Commission and other regulatory agencies to develop a modern regulatory program for the management of oil and gas exploration and development activities in the state, including the use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for that purpose." 

The North Carolina Academy of Science commends the General Assembly for soliciting public opinion, requiring pertinent state departments to conduct in-depth studies, and adopting the recommendations of these studies in drafting language of the Clean Energy and Economic Security Act. 

The North Carolina Academy of Science strongly encourages the General Assembly to proceed with equal caution in developing a regulatory framework and before drafting any future legislation that could allow issuance of permits for horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. 

More specifically, the North Carolina Academy of Science recommends the following:

1) the issuance of permits be truly prohibited until the state has the trained personnel and financial resources to monitor and regulate fracking activities effectively, and until such time that adequate safeguards are in place to ensure protection of the environment, society, human health, and the economy

2) the state of North Carolina investigate the economic and social impacts of fracking in consideration of the limited amount of natural gas in the state's shale formations and the economic benefits that would actually result from fracking

3) the Mining and Energy Commission and other state regulatory agencies actively engage
members of the scientific community in deliberations on the development of a modern oil and gas regulatory program

4) regulations are made subject to ongoing review to accommodate the latest scientific knowledge and technological advances, and to accommodate any impacts on the environment, society, human health, and the economy

5) the state of North Carolina provide financial support for scientific research on the effects of fracking. Sound science is critical for informed decision making, yet the paucity of existing scientific, peer-reviewed studies on fracking poses serious constraints.4 Particularly troubling is the absence of long-term studies on the effects of fracking on human health and drinking water4,5,6,7

6) the state of North Carolina invest sufficient financial resources to develop and use renewable energies, while reducing its dependency on fossil fuels, including natural gas.

Adopted June 18, 2013

1. Levi, M.A. January 2013. Climate consequences of natural gas as a bridge fuel. (unformatted pre-print version available at http://www.cfr.org/energyenvironment/climate-consequences-natural-gas-bridge-fuel/p29772). Climate Change.

2. Smith, R. and T. Ozer, Lead Authors. 2012. North Carolina Oil and Gas Study under Session Law 2011276. (http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/guest/denr-study). North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the North Carolina Department of Commerce. 

3. Act of 2 July 2012. Session Law 2012-143. Senate Bill 820. (http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2011/Bills/Senate/HTML/S820v6.html). General Assembly of North Carolina Session 2011. 

4. Jackson R.B., B. Rainey Pearson, S.G. Osborn, N.R. Warner, and A. Vengosh. 2011. Research and policy recommendations for hydraulic fracturing and shale‐gas extraction. (http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/cgc/HydraulicFracturingWhitepaper2011.pdf). Center on Global Change, Duke University, Durham, NC.

5. Committee on Science for EPA's Future; Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology; Division on Earth and Life Studies; National Research Council . 2012. Science for Environmental Protection: The Road Ahead. The National Academy of Sciences. National Academies Press.

6. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. December 2012. Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources: Progress Report. (http://www.epa.gov/hfstudy/pdfs/hf-report20121214.pdf). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, EPA/601/R-12/011.

7. Vidic R.D., S. L. Brantley, J. M. Vandenbossche, D. Yoxtheimer, and J. D. Abad. 2013. Impact of shale gas development on regional water quality. (Available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1235009) Science 340, DOI: 10.1126/science.1235009.

Climate Change


adopted 9/10/2010

North Carolina Academy of Science Endorses Position Statements on Climate Change

The North Carolina Academy of Science acknowledges that human activities are profoundly affecting global climate and that urgent actions must be taken to mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

The world’s leading scientific organizations and scientists are in agreement that global climate is warming, largely as a result of human activities (http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2009/media/1021climate_letter.pdf). Chief among these activities are the burning of fossil fuels, widespread deforestation, and changing land use practices, resulting in increased concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. While these “greenhouse” gases occur naturally in small amounts in the atmosphere, their elevated levels generate an overall warming effect on Earth (http://www.aaas.org/news/press_room/climate_change/). The negative effects of climate change will continue to impact human society, the economy and biological and physical systems. 

The North Carolina Academy of Science endorses the scientific findings in the most recent assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (http://www.ipcc.ch/). Further, the Academy endorses the American Association for the Advancement of Science (http://www.aaas.org/news/press_room/climate_change/mtg_200702/
aaas_climate_statement.pdf) Board Statement on Climate Change, and the Joint National Academies statement on climate change (http://www.nationalacademies.org/includes/G8+5energy-climate09.pdf).

The challenges before us, both demanding and exciting, require novel thinking and the intellectual capital of the world’s scientific communities. Current and future generations of scientists, many of whom will undoubtedly catch their first glimpse of science in the public school or college laboratory, will provide the brain power to engage these challenging opportunities. 

The NC Academy’s long history of fostering science in the state promotes public appreciation of science, science education, scientific research and a meaningful role for science in public policy (http://www.ncacadsci.org/MissionStatement.html). The Academy offers a unique position from which to contribute to advances in science and technology that can positively engage climate change issues.

State-level Coalitions for Science & Technology Policy Advice - adopted 2/15/2008

Approved by the Board of Directors and Assembly of Delegates
February 15, 2008

Advocating the establishment of state level coalitions for S&T policy advice to local and
state governments including governors, cabinet agencies and legislatures.

WHEREAS, The National Association of Academies of Science (NAAS), an affiliate of The American Association for the Advancement of Science, promotes the common aims and purposes of the several state and municipal academies and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and

WHEREAS, specifically the NAAS provides appropriate means for consultation to assist the academies in their common purposes and their accomplishments; and

WHEREAS, since the 1945 publication of Vannevar Bush's Science-The Endless Frontier, the federal
government has played the predominant role in supporting research and development (R&D) and
in establishing public policies that affect science and technology (S&T) in the United States; and

WHEREAS, almost every major policy issue today is influenced by scientific and technological information and expertise; and

WHEREAS, the federal government is no longer the sole focus of R&D funding and S&T policymaking, the influence of scientific and engineering research on our daily lives has steadily increased, the states have assumed an increasing responsibility for developing, formalizing, and institutionalizing policies and programs that support R&D and enable S&T evidence and expertise to be incorporated into policymaking; and

WHEREAS, the roles of the states in S&T policy are likely to expand as the federal government faces continuing budget shortfalls and a reluctance to enact policies based on scientific evidence: and

WHEREAS, today there are a great range and diversity of approaches for incorporating scientific and technological advice and evidence into policy- and decision-making at the state level; and

WHEREAS, there remains a clear and ongoing mandate for a cohesive set of both federal and state policy and programs that both sustain R&D and promote the application of new knowledge in such areas as agriculture, public health, STEM education, energy, transportation, and the environment. 

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT:The Board of Directors and the Assembly of Delegates of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ACADEMIES OF SCIENCE (NAAS), meeting in Boston, Massachusetts in February 2008, call upon its member academies, The American Association for the Advancement of Science, other AAAS affiliates that have state and local chapters such as, but not limited to, Sigma Xi, the American Chemical Society, the National Society of Professional Engineers and IEEE, to establish state level coalitions or other mechanisms for S&T policy advice to local and state governments including governors, cabinet agencies and legislatures. The NAAS urges its member academies to reach out, cooperate with, and support existing policy mechanisms and organizations. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT: The NAAS especially urges the National Academy of Sciences, 
the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and The American Association for the Advancement of Science to encourage their members to become involved in state level coalitions or participate in other mechanisms for S&T policy advice.

1/Text of this resolution by Lynn Elfner (614.499.2228 oas@iwaynet.net), derived mostly verbatim from presentations, discussions and documents provided at the State S&T Policy Advice: Issues. Assets, and Opportunities; Convocation #1: Energy, Environment, Economic Competitiveness; The National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, the National Association of Academies of Science, and the California Council on Science and Technology, a convocation at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center, Irvine, CA on October 15-16, 2007.

February 15, 2008