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Pollution mandate changes for NC fracking nears final OK

RALEIGH (AP) — The General Assembly is one vote away from finalizing a bill giving a state panel more leeway directing how air pollution from future fracking operations in North Carolina is restricted.

The Senate gave tentative approval Thursday to a House bill that in part would no longer require the Environmental Management Commission to create air-toxic rules for the natural gas drilling if it determines federal or state regulations are adequate.

Regulators still would have authority to create more severe restrictions. Environmentalists worry the change will ultimately result in weaker standards.

The bill is moving quickly because other drilling rules will take effect next Tuesday. A final Senate vote is expected early next week after Thursday’s 37-11 tentative approval. Gov. Pat McCrory would be asked to sign the bill into law.

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