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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — A state geologist says estimates of a 40-year supply of natural gas in North Carolina are “wildly optimistic” and that fracking likely won’t uncover enough energy to fuel a large-scale economic boom.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported assistant state geologist Kenneth Taylor says estimates of a 40-year supply of natural gas are unlikely to be accurate.

State geologists now believe the only safe assumption is that the gas is concentrated around Lee, Moore and Chatham counties. Actual amounts won’t be known until energy companies sink test wells and measure the gas.

Fracking, or hyrdraulic fracturing, is combined with horizontal drilling to uncover natural gas deposits trapped in prehistoric shale rock formations. Gov. Bev Perdue signed an order this week establishing a task force to develop fracking regulations.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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