RALEIGH — A controversial practice this week got a big boost from Gov. Bev Perdue.

“From what I saw, fracking can be done safely if you regulate it and put fees in place to have inspectors on the ground,” said Perdue.

The governor surprised many this week when she said fracking might be a viable option for North Carolina. This method of forcing natural gas from deep underground has many environmentalists warning of potential problems, like contaminated groundwater and dangerous gas leaks.

Perdue visited a fracking operation in Pennsylvania last week to see how it works first hand. She said she now believes with the right precautions in place, it could be something she would support.

“At the end of the day it’s jobs,” said Perdue. “It’s a fuel source produced in this country and it’s something that can help North Carolina be globally competitive.”

This position has some opponents speaking out.

“So we see a statement that it can be safely done as really defying the growing body of knowledge of the regulatory failures and the bodies of science from independent institutions that are studying the impacts on groundwater,” said Hope Taylor with Clean Water N.C.

But fracking supporters are glad to hear the governor’s encouraging words. They said they believe this means the state could soon be in the fracking business.

“I believe with the Governor’s support we will be able to get a bill that can pass,” said Rep. Paul Stam, House Majority Leader, “that she will not veto. And we can begin.”

Stam said a bill allowing this recovery process in North Carolina could pass as early as this spring’s legislative session. Opponents said that is troubling.

“There is no way that North Carolina is going to be ready to deal with a complex and technically demanding technology and the regulatory requirements, if we knew what those were, because we have seen that demonstrated,” said Taylor.

The N.C. Department of Natural Resources is expected to release a study on fracking in North Carolina on Friday.