Whatever your opinion about the politics of fracking, the science is clear. Like every other human activity throughout history, fracking comes with risks.
As things currently stand in North Carolina, the risks of fracking rest on four stakeholder groups. Companies investing to make money, landowners selling rights, neighbors affected by contamination, and taxpayers at large. Some pretend that the risks and benefits are fairly distributed, which of course they are not. In any case, courts will be the final arbiters.
Unseen behind the invisible hand, of course, are those disruptive free agents who tilt the balance of risk and reward: the General Assembly and the governor. They create and implement public policy which often has far reaching public costs - and they do so with no personal risk. Which brings me to an amendment that must accompany any fracking legislation in North Carolina.
Any elected official who casts a “yes” vote on this legislation will be personally responsible for all costs incurred by the citizens seeking relief. There is no statute of limitations for this liability.
No elected official would ever voluntarily do this. Building personal liability into legislation is unheard of. It carries untold risks on many fronts. So does fracking.