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Energy exploration bill returns to NC Senate panel

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RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- Supporters of a bill to allow permits for underground natural gas exploration in North Carolina say the legislation would cause energy companies to consider drilling in the state.

The measure is expected to receive more debate and a vote Thursday in a Senate committee. It authorizes regulators to issue the first licenses for horizontal drilling and fracking five months after drilling rules are finalized.

The bill also lays out how energy production would be taxed and urges the governor to work with South Carolina and Virginia to seek Atlantic offshore drilling.

Environmental groups said earlier this week there's no need to rush the bill while regulations are being developed. They're also worried about changes involving how wastewater and hydraulic fracturing fluid could be stored.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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