McCrory criticized in TV ad for shale gas exploration

The Associated Press

A coalition of environmental groups is on television again, criticizing Gov. Pat McCrory for signing bills into law designed to encourage a type of shale gas exploration in North Carolina called fracking.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A coalition of environmental groups is on television again, criticizing Gov. Pat McCrory for signing bills into law designed to encourage a type of shale gas exploration in North Carolina called fracking.

The North Carolina Environmental Partnership began airing a 30-second commercial Tuesday. Documents show it already intends to spend $300,000 over four weeks on at least two Raleigh TV stations, including WRAL, which first reported the commercial's existence.

The partnership cites three bills that McCrory signed that have provisions related to fracking, including one that became law this month and is designed to stop local governments from ordinances that prohibit hydraulic fracturing directly or indirectly. The ad says hydraulic fracturing can pollute air and threaten drinking water. It asks viewers to tell McCrory "to stand with us, not the polluters, and say no to fracking."

Mary Maclean Asbill with the Southern Environmental Law Center, a partnership member, called the commercial part of "end-of-session accountability work" that calls out elected officials for their actions, which she says "are going to hurt North Carolina's air, water and communities." The ad also will run in the Greensboro and Asheville markets, Asbill said, and mailers will be sent out.

The state Republican Party called partnership members "radical environmental groups" spreading false information about fracking safety through the ad singling out McCrory. The partnership includes the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Waterkeeper Alliance.

McCrory's "all-of-the-above energy strategy will create jobs, lower energy costs and move the U.S. closer to energy independence," Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Crystal Feldman said in a release Tuesday. "The governor supports the development of all cost-effective, clean and reliable energy resources."

Last year, the partnership singled out several lawmakers for votes on environmental issues through TV and mailers. One TV ad referred to three Republican senators as members of the "Fracking Crew" for their pro-fracking votes.

A 2014 law signed by McCrory opened the door for rules governing fracking to take affect this past March. No permit applications have been filed, however, as a judge delayed permitting while related litigation is pending.

The ad begins just as two groups begin running TV commercials praising McCrory and the General Assembly for actions related to tax rate reductions and the economy. McCrory will seek re-election next year.

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