Permits for companies to perform a form of underground natural gas exploration in North Carolina could begin in March 2015 in a bill offered by Senate Republicans.
The measure filed Monday would direct regulators to issue horizontal drilling and fracking licenses five months after a regulatory panel is supposed to finish work on rules for those activities. The legislature authorized fracking in 2012 but said permits couldn't be issued without express consent of legislators.
Senators also want shale gas taxes increasing annually to encourage early exploration.
The bill also mimics a 2011 law vetoed by then-Gov. Beverly Perdue but not overridden. Gov. Pat McCrory would be authorized to work with Virginia and South Carolina governors to persuade the federal government to open the Atlantic coast to natural gas drilling.