Fracking Bans Pass In California, Ohio, Texas Towns
While environmentalists saw key races go south Tuesday night, activists are applauding towns and counties that passed ballot measures banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Two California counties along with Athens, Ohio and Denton, Texas passed ballot such measures Tuesday night– a tiny bright spot for green groups in a sea of Republican victories last night.
“As fracking brings the oil and gas industry closer to more and more places where people live, work and play around the country, we are seeing a growing nationwide trend of communities standing up for their right to protect their residents when their state and the federal government has failed to,” Kate Sinding, director of an anti-fracking program at the Natural Resource Defense Council, said in a statement.
But not all anti-fracking ballot measures were approved by voters. Ballot measures in the Ohio towns of Gates Mills, Kent and Youngstown did not pass. A high-profile measure to ban fracking in Santa Barbara County, California also failed to get voters’ approval.
At best anti-fracking activists saw mixed success nationwide last night. This comes after Colorado activists agreed to withdraw proposed anti-fracking ballot measures in favor of establishing a state task force to investigate the well-stimulation technique.
Still, green groups touted the ballot measures that did pass as evidence of fracking’s unpopularity across the country.
“Whether this happens at the polls, through local governments or in the courts, the message is clear,” Sinding said. “Americans are demanding the right to determine their own fracking fate. Where these measures did not pass yesterday—we know from past experience that as long as the oil and gas industry runs amok, the local fight is far from over.”
Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals deep underground to extract oil and natural gas from shale formations. Environmentalists argue the practice contaminates groundwater and causes global warming. Supporters say its environmentally safe and is helping lift up local economies.
In particular, green groups are touting the passage of the Denton, Texas anti-fracking measure as a major success since Texas is the largest oil producing state. The fracking revolution was first pioneered in the Barnett shale formation where Denton is located, reports Reuters.
Reuters notes that the Denton measure “pitted oil and gas operators and mineral rights owners against residents who say their homes and lives are being encroached on by work that can be noisy, soak up scarce water supplies, and overwhelm roads with heavy truck traffic.”
The anti-fracking measure won 58 percent of the vote. But oil and gas industry groups say they will take the ballot measure to court.
“It’s essentially a ban on all drilling,” Ed Ireland, executive director of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, told Reuters. “No one would try to drill a well if they can’t frack it, and that will unleash a torrent of lawsuits.”
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