MOSCOW, September 17 (RIA Novosti) – A group of homeless people were paid to attend a North Carolina state hearing on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, wearing "Shale Yes" T-shirts in order to make public support for the practice seem stronger, Citizen Times reported.
"I don't think they had any idea what they were getting into. Once they realized it, they were very uncomfortable. They were completely clueless about what fracking is," Bettie Ashby, member of the Jackson County Coalition Against Fracking, a North Carolina advocacy group, said as quoted by Citizen-Times Tuesday.
"At least two of them I met definitely came from a homeless shelter. One of them even apologized to me and said, 'I didn't know they were trying to do this to me,'" Ashby added, noting that one of the homeless people hinted that he "did it" for the money.
According to Citizen Times, the homeless men were hired by the North Carolina Energy Coalition, sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, which advocates for oil and natural gas industries in the United States.
The state hearing on fracking took place at Western Carolina University and attracted about 600 people. Opposition to fracking was overwhelming in comments made during the hearing, which was hosted by the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission.
North Carolina fast-tracked the state fracking approval process last year, but has not yet initiated any drilling operations.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique for recovering gas and oil from shale rock by drilling down into the ground and injecting water, sand and chemicals into the rock at high pressures, releasing gas to the head of the well.
The method has triggered a surge in US gas production, but raised fears that breaking up rock formations underground using toxic solutions could cause hazardous air and water pollution and trigger earthquakes in the regions around shale gas extraction sites.