The N.C. Ethics Commission said Friday that the state's new Mining & Energy Commission, formed this summer, is bound by North Carolina's ethics disclosure rules.
Members of the Mining & Energy Commission now have 60 days to submit a personal disclosure form listing their assets and sources of income. The Mining & Energy Commission, also called the fracking commission, is responsible for writing rules that will govern natural gas exploration in the state.
The N.C. Ethics Commission voted unanimously to include the Mining & Energy Commission under the state's ethics umbrella, based on a staff recommendation to do so. The ethics panel voted without discussion.
One unresolved issue may be addressed in the coming months. Ethics Commission staff do not know if North Carolina's conflict-of-interest rules call for disclosing mineral rights ownership and leases signed with drilling companies. Mineral rights refer to the ownership of oil, gas and other substances hundreds of feet beneath the surface of a property; leases are contracts giving energy companies the right to drill and mine for those substances.
Ethics staff are researching how to interpret state law on these murky points, on the expectation that fracking commissioners will seek guidance on the issue as they fill out ethics disclosure forms.