Two Pennsylvania farmers who leased land to shale gas drillers in their state and dreamed of a big payoff painted a bleak picture of the gas industry Thursday.
Carolyn Knapp and Carol French warned that if North Carolina permits drillers to explore here, residents can expect conflicts with neighbors, lawsuits with gas companies, health complaints, a spike in crime and ruined property values.
The two farmers were hosted in Raleigh by two advocacy groups - N.C. Policy Watch and Clean Water for North Carolina - at a time that North Carolina is emerging as the nation's next battleground over shale gas exploration. The pair also planned to speak in Durham and Southern Pines.
"We're seeing farms losing 80 percent to 90 percent of their property value," Knapp said. "The amount of noise that comes from these operations is unbelievable. ... It's probably worse than living on an expressway."
Neither farmer is collecting royalties from leases on their farms, because the companies haven't drilled yet or are not currently producing gas.
Supporters of shale gas exploration see domestic gas reserves as an alternative to dirty coal and imported oil. North Carolina is believed to have a 1,400-square-mile deposit less than a mile underground, concentrated west of Raleigh in Lee, Chatham and Moore counties.
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