GEOLOGY IN PUBLIC POLICY: NORTH CAROLINA’S OIL & GAS HISTORY, RULES, AND FUTURE POSSIBILITIES
Per legislative mandates in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and later as NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) began the process of hiring new technical staff for the modern Oil & Gas Program. The Program was created to assist the Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) with oil and gas research and rule development. Program personnel drafted a new body of rules that addresses oil and gas exploration and development involving drilling unit establishment, initial site construction, drilling, well stimulation, production, waste management, plugging and abandonment, and wellsite reclamation. The new rule set was approved by the MEC and subsequently authorized by the NC Rules Review Commission in March 2015, establishing 15A NCAC 05H “Oil and Gas Conservation Rules” as the new regulatory framework. Subsequent statutes have since replaced the MEC with the new Oil and Gas Commission, which has yet to be filled with Gubernatorial and Legislative appointees. Nevertheless, NC recognizes the importance of on-going geological research, as well as statute and rule updating, to help the state increase its energy independence through responsible production of onshore hydrocarbon resources.