Legislation setting a potential March 2015 starting date when North Carolina regulators could begin issuing permits for underground natural gas drilling such as fracking now goes to the House.
The Senate gave its final approval Wednesday in a 39-7 vote to the measure that bill supporters say will give potential drilling operators certainty that North Carolina wants companies to explore for energy. Tentative Senate approval came Tuesday.
The General Assembly authorized fracking in 2012 but said permits couldn't be issued without the express consent of legislators. Drilling
The bill also sets up severance taxes on energy production and urges Gov. Pat McCrory to work on offshore energy exploration.
Environmental groups say the process is going too fast and fracking threatens water quality.