RALEIGH- The North Carolina House approved hydraulic fracturing gas drilling or more commonly known as fracking, 66 to 43 Thursday.
But legislators probably did not anticipate their vote would be inspiration for an amusement park ride in Orlando, Fla.
Universal Studios Florida Attractions announced late Sunday plans to add a new ride to the amusement park, “Earthquake 2.0 North Carolina USA.” The new 20-minute ride will allow guests to explore North Carolina fracking, which will climax in a simulated 8.3 magnitude earthquake.
Fracking involves injecting a drilled well with chemicals, water and sand at high speed to break up shale rock deep underground and free trapped natural gas. It has been long suspected fracking cause earthquakes, but was finally confirmed this past Friday by The National Research Council report, “Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies.”
“We are excited to bring back an old favorite ride back, with a new twist,” said Bill Davis, President & COO of Universal Orlando.
“It is probably unfortunate for those in North Carolina, given the circumstances, but hey, nobody asked Kansas residents before they made Twister.”
The Orlando amusement park had a similar ride “Earthquake: The Big One” that simulated an 8.3 magnitude earthquake from a San Francisco subway train, which ran from 1990-2002. Earthquake North Carolina however guests experience the earthquake from the safety of an extended cab Ford pickup truck splattered with “Bush/Cheney” bumper stickers, with giant oversized stainless steel Truck Nutts dangling from the bed.
“We really wanted our guests to experience the type of individual that would risk their own personal safety and the safety of thousands others, for something so materialistic as natural gas and oil,” said Davis.
The Senate will take up the North Carolina fracking bill this week for consideration of minor amendments before landing on the governor’s desk. If the bill passes as expected, fracking would begin in the state of North Carolina starting in 2014.
But bill supporters seem to be not worried about how an amusement park in Orlando might impact the state’s image.
“This bill has always been about jobs,” said Rep. Mitch Gillespie, R-McDowell.
“Good to know we are not only creating jobs in North Carolina through fracking, but also in Florida.”
Gillepsie even dismissed claims fracking causes earthquake, saying it was completely safe and job creation is what is really important. But not everyone agrees.
“So I bet the GOP will claim it created jobs when it hires contractors to clean up the aftermath of earthquakes in North Carolina,” said Ben Olson, a 32-year-old Raleigh native.
“Wow, just wow. Good to know I can relive the trauma all over again in Florida though, if I want to.”
The National Research Council also disagrees, who says yes fracking can cause earthquakes, especially when companies pump the wastewater from those operations back down into deep sandstone or other formations for permanent disposal. In January, wastewater injection was blamed for earthquakes that had just occurred in Youngstown, Ohio, on Christmas Eve and again on New Year’s Eve, measuring 2.7 and 4.0 on the Richter scale, respectively.
Gillepsie however argues oil independence is more important than the risk of earthquakes.
“This bill is not only about creating jobs, but also stopping the US dependence on Middle Eastern oil,” said Gillepsie.
“We currently bankroll terrorist by relying on foreign oil. This is about US energy independence. I can’t recall where any instance of trying to decrease our reliance on Middle Eastern oil has been a bad thing.”
The North Carolina Senate will take up the fracking bill this week. “Earthquake 2.0 North Carolina USA” is expected to open next summer.