By Bertrand M. Gutierrez of the Winston-Salem Journal
George Howard, the vice chairman of a state commission charged with proposing how to regulate North Carolina’s imminent dive into natural gas exploration, stands to make money on the harmful effects of the industry’s prime drilling method: hydraulic fracturing.
Howard is the president and co-founder of Restoration Systems LLC, based in Raleigh, which has been picked to do a stream-mitigation project involving the Towanda Creek watershed in rural Bradford County in Pennsylvania. On the company’s website, a description of the project leaves little doubt about how hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is good for his business.
Last week, proposed rules that would govern natural gas exploration and fracking came up at several meetings in Raleigh. And Howard showed some of his influence. He and an elite group of state DENR management officials privately quashed recommendations made by a special panel that was supposed to help shape those rules. Among the officials was DENR Secretary John Skvarla, who until recently worked under Howard as CEO of Restoration Systems.