Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton supports Gov. Bev Perdue's vetoes of the state budget adjustments and a rewrite of the Racial Justice Act -- but not on the issue of natural gas drilling through fracking.
In an interview Monday, Dalton said lawmakers made concessions on the legislation establishing a framework for natural gas drilling in North Carolina. "It is a proactive step," he said. "It's not perfect; it's not what I would necessary want. But I would prefer seeing that put in place as we leave here than not having some time of regulatory process going forward."
His GOP rival Pat McCrory also expressed disappointment in Perdue's veto. McCrory -- a former Duke Energy employee whose campaign manager formerly worked for America's Natural Gas Alliance and whose law firm represents the state's leading fracking proponent, the N.C. Petroleum Council -- is a longtime supporter of drilling.
"... Governor Perdue and Lt. Governor Dalton have done nothing to advance energy exploration in North Carolina. Instead of political posturing and gamesmanship, we must demonstrate leadership to get North Carolina into the energy business and move forward with energy exploration and production," he said in a statement.
Here's Dalton's full comments from our interview on the fracking veto:
"I think that House did make some substantial concessions (on the fracking bill). It does initiate a regulatory process. It is a proactive step. It's not perfect; it's not what I would necessary want. But I would prefer seeing that put in place as we leave here than not having some time of regulatory process going forward."
Asked if the legislation has enough environmental safeguards -- as Perdue contends it does not -- Dalton said, "I think it has the potential to do that. I would prefer a little more with the issue of the ground water supply. Our own Department of Environment and Natural Resources indicates it can be done safely without damage to the ground water or the substructure of the earth. I had concerns with that and I still do but they say that is OK. What I've not seen addressed is the supply of groundwater because it takes a ton of water to do the fracking process. You're talking rural areas that have experienced drought. But if I read that correctly, they authorized that commission to look into that and I hope and think they will do that.
"Furthermore, there is some assurance that it would have to come back for further legislative action."
N.C. Republican Party Scott Laster later issued a statement: "Lt. Governor Dalton is pulling another move out of Governor Perdue's 2008 campaign playbook. After failing to distance himself from the Governor during the first debate, the Lt. Governor is trying desperately to distance himself from the unpopular current administration any way he can."