Judge temporarily halts fracking approvals in NC

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — A judge has ordered North Carolina not to approve any fracking operations until the state Supreme Court rules on a legal question about how state panels are formed.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald W. Stephens’ decision this month delays proceedings in a case by environmental groups that argues that the state’s Mining and Energy Commission was formed in violation of the state constitution.

The preliminary injunction temporarily prevents the commission from accepting or processing applications for hydraulic fracturing drilling units. Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals to break apart underground rocks so oil and gas can escape.

Stephens writes that the state’s high court is expected to rule this summer on a separate case that depends on a similar legal question about how state panels are formed.

The Southern Environmental Law Center’s North Carolina director, Derb Carter, says he’s pleased with the ruling. He says no drilling units have been approved yet.

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