El Camino: Fighting fracking in North Carolina

El Camino: Fighting fracking in North Carolina
Richard Allen protests fracking in North Carolina

Our road took us through North Carolina and to Cherokee, the site of an Indian reservation and a Harrah’s casino.

I wasn’t interested in gambling just driving through the reservation to see what we would find. At the main intersection on the reservation and across the street from the casino, there were people holding “Don't Frack Cherokee Land” signs.

So I stopped to talk to some of them.

None of the two dozen protesters there were Cherokee, but they said they received permission from the elders to protest on the land. The anti-fracking activists were all from nearby towns or from Asheville.

They decided to protest on the reservation because that day North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory was meeting with other Republican governors at the casino.

And on June 4 the governor signed a law that would allow fracking in the state of North Carolina. This law trumps a 2012 moratorium that blocked permits on fracking.

“This is personal because it affects where I live,” said Bonnie Rubenstein, 68, originally from Springfield, Illinois.

Bonnie Rubenstein

Bonnie Rubinstein

She is now retired and living in a cabin on land east of the reservation.

Anti-fracking activists are concerned about the environmental impact on the land and contamination of water supplies. They also say there are other energy sources to explore such as wind and solar.

North Carolina isn’t the only state where residents are battling fracking. It is a nationwide issue from upstate New York to Southern Illinois and Wyoming.

The North Carolinians I met are concerned that there will be fracking in this Blue Ridge Mountain region.

“This part of the country really depends on tourism,” said Richard Allen, 55, of Asheville.

Rubenstein said that she won’t give up the fight against fracking.

“This area is beautiful,” Rubenstein said. “It’s up to all of us to protect it.”

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