Editorial: Why the rush to frack?

June 13, 2014 

Sen. Chad Barefoot, who represents a significant part of Garner, has taken some disingenuous punishment as a leader behind the fracking movement, but he clearly supports the idea. We question the state’s rush to judgment.

Barefoot has been at the center of a series of television ads promoting him as one of the evil leaders of the effort to bring fracking to North Carolina. Fracking – the process of dislodging natural gas from rocks with a mixture of water and chemicals – has its proponents, but a large number of North Carolinians seem to think the jury is still out on whether it’s a good thing for the environment. That means the topic is sure to be political fodder during campaign season.

Barefoot, though, hasn’t really been at the forefront of the issue. He hasn’t sponsored any bills on the matter. He doesn’t live in or represent any of the areas where fracking might take place. But he is seen by political opponents as beatable. Therein lies the reason behind linking Barefoot to the divisive issue of fracking.

And for some reason, Barefoot has made himself a target for the criticism by expressing his support for the proposal to allow fracking, despite the many unanswered questions and the science that would indicate there are problems. He’s supported the idea despite other moves by the General Assembly to keep secrets about the process hidden from the public.

Barefoot would be much better served – and so would his constituents, by the way – if he were to carve out a position of moderation here, calling for a full debate on the issue and helping all sides reach a mutually agreeable middle ground. He’s missed that chance now, though. The issue has wound its way through the General Assembly and the governor’s office. It awaits only the final rules to be created by the state’s Rules Review Commission.

At the end of the day, voters are left to wonder where Barefoot’s allegiances really lie. That’s not the kind of position anyone running for public office wants to find themselves in.

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