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NC Senate panel OKs framework to regulate fracking

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RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- A Senate committee has recommended a framework which the state of North Carolina should follow while legalizing a controversial form of natural gas drilling.

The Senate Commerce Committee voted Tuesday in favor of the measure, which would lift a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. But state permits wouldn't occur for at least another two years while regulations are developed.

The bill would direct state agencies to devise a regulatory program to manage oil and gas exploration that ultimately would be approved by the General Assembly.

Bill Weatherspoon with the North Carolina Petroleum Council calls the bill a good "take-it-slow" approach. Several Democrats opposed to the bill says the process should go even slower because the environmental risks are so great.

The bill now goes to the full Senate.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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