Governor signs bill on fracking emissions and coal ash management

Governor signs bill on fracking emissions and coal ash management

RALEIGH, NC (AP/WECT) - Environmental legislation that gives leeway to a North Carolina state panel in creating air pollution rules for fracking has been signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory.

The governor signed the measure soon after the Senate gave final General Assembly approval Monday night to the bill, which cleans up environmental laws already in place. The legislation adjusts the 2012 law authorizing hydraulic fracturing for drilling natural gas and directing exploration rules be created. HB 157 was introduced by Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) and Rep. Rick Catlin (R-New Hanover).

The new law says the Environmental Management Commission doesn't have to create its own toxic-air regulations if it finds existing regulations are adequate.

Supporters say the change was needed now because the other fracking rules take effect Tuesday, opening up applications.

Drilling opponents say the bill makes it less likely top-notch emissions restrictions will occur.

The law also makes changes regarding management of coal ash at facilities across the state.

"Among some needed technical changes and clarifications, this legislation will provide added environmental protections for our state and expedite the removal of coal ash from ash ponds adjacent to our waterways," Governor McCrory said in an email news release. "Addressing the long-ignored problem of coal ash has been a focus of my administration and this bill improves upon the work the General Assembly and my team began last summer. When the Coal Ash Management Act became law, North Carolina became the national leader in coal ash regulation."

To read the version of the bill passes by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor click here:

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. WECT contributed to this report.