The North Carolina Senate passed bi-partisan legislation this week that moves our state further ahead in achieving energy independence and creating a robust energy sector that will help attract high-paying jobs, private investment, and additional revenue to our economy.
The Energy Modernization Act paves the way for responsible domestic energy production by authorizing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Mining and Energy Commission to begin issuing permits for natural gas exploration and development as of July 1, 2015. Further, this act provides an incentive for energy companies to hire workers and begin production by establishing one of the most competitive severance tax plans in the nation.
To ensure that exploration of our energy resources is done safely, the bill also allows additional time for a comprehensive regulatory structure to be put in place. After almost two years of study, the Mining and Energy Commission has developed more than a hundred rules and safety measures related to natural gas development. The bill passed by the Senate extends the deadline for finalizing these rules to January 1, 2015, ensuring ample time for amendments following an extensive public comment period set for later this year. We are moving forward with natural gas exploration in a gradual and measured fashion that will ensure the best possible results for North Carolina. The synthesis of this new industry in our state will rejuvenate the chemical, manufacturing, and steel industries that were so badly damaged in the recession.
Over the last decade, clean-burning natural gas has shown lower carbon dioxide emissions than other forms of energy. And according to various geologic studies, comparisons to other locations across the Southeast show many of North Carolina’s possible exploration sites have tremendous natural gas potential.
After years of study, it is time to move ahead. Domestic energy has been a tremendous economic boon to other states, and North Carolina is ready to join their ranks. I look forward to seeing this industry expand while creating high-paying jobs that will improve our economy.