We all make mistakes, but our errors are rarely made law. That is what happened in North Carolina when state representative democrat Becky Carney accidentally pushed the wrong button whilst casting the deciding vote on a key fracking bill. Even worse, House rules prohibit changing a vote that would affect the outcome.
As most Inhabitat readers probably know, fracking is the controversial practice of blasting a pressurized fluid into rock fractures in order to release natural gas and petroleum. Unfortunately, the practice is known to cause ground water contamination, risks to air quality, migration of gases and health problems due to the chemical waste.
In North Carolina, lawmakers had already passed a bill that established rules for hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling for oil and gas exploration in the state, but that bill had been vetoed by Governor Bev Perdue. In order to override the veto, the House needed exactly 72 votes and it was up to democrat Becky Carney (who voted against the original bill) to cast the deciding vote.
When her time came, Carney reportedly hit the wrong button casting a ‘yes’ vote for her opponents and taking the total to 72. This is after Carney had been lobbying fellow democrats to vote no. Local media reported that just after casting her vote, Carney’s voice could be heard on her microphone saying “oh my gosh. I pushed green.”
Whoops. As rules state that it is impossible to change a deciding vote, the override stays in effect, which means that fracking is now legal in North Carolina. Carney, of course, has apologized for her error and blamed it on extreme tiredness.
“It is late. Here we are rushing to make these kind of decisions this time of night,” she said to reporters. “I feel rotten, and I feel tired and I feel that mistakes are made constantly when people are tired. And I feel rotten about it, but I take responsibility for my vote.”
This is not the first time that Carney has made such an error. Earlier this year she admitted to passing a transportation bill without knowing what it actually did. Do you ever getting the feeling that the wrong people in the world have all the power?