This may not be what the founders had in mind on July 4, 1776, but shale gas exploration will move forward in North Carolina after an anti-fracking lawmaker accidentally voted in favor of the controversial process on Monday night.
North Carolina’s Democrat Governor Bev Perdue vetoed the fracking legislation, but state rep Becky Carney, a fellow Democrat accidentally pushed the “green” or “aye” button to override the governor’s veto. The veto override passed the North Carolina house by 72 to 46, with Carney’s vote providing the margin of victory.
You could say that Carney took a page out of 2004 president candidate Sen. John Kerry’s playbook by voting against fracking (ironically using the “green” button) before she voted for it. Or to put it another way, the lawmaker appears to have “fracked up.”
Fracking is a process in which oil and natural gas are more easily extracted from oil shale by fracturing the underground rock with a highly pressurized stream of liquids. Fracking opponents argue that the process could contaminate drinking water.
According to Yahoo! News, Carney said that “I feel rotten, and I feel tired. And I feel that mistakes are made constantly when people are tired. But I take responsibility for my vote.”
Carney was not permitted to change her vote once she realized her error. Yahoo! notes that “Under state law, lawmakers can change their vote if they make a mistake—unless their vote changes the outcome.”
As reported by the Raleigh News Observer, Carney–who has served in the North Carolina legislature for 10 years–also said that “This late at night, tired and an important vote of this magnitude I should have been allowed that courtesy.”
The state legislature has overriden Gov. Perdue’s vetoes an unprecedented eleven times in the last two years. Faced with dismal approval ratings, Gov. Perdue previously declined to run for a second term. Pat McCrory, the former Republican mayor of Charlotte, is expected to win the gubernatorial election in November. Mitt Romney is also projected to win North Carolina in the presidential election.
It will likely be 2014 before shale gas exploration in North Carolina will actually begin and only after safety regulations have been put in place. In addition, there probably will be the inevitable lawsuits trying to block fracking in the state.
Because the dispute over fracking has been so politicized by those in favor of development and the environmentalists, it is difficult to accept the claims of either side at face value.
One thing is certain, however, regardless of where you come down on the issue. Energy independence for the U.S. is both an economic and a national security imperative.
Do you think Rep. Carney should have been allowed to change her vote?