Guess what? Hydraulic fracturing, or natural gas fracking, isn’t new. It’s been going on for years. Only recently has it become a publicly discussed issue, thanks to environmental organizations and citizens tired of drinking flammable water. Faced with the climbing price of gas and limited political support for renewable energy, states such as Louisiana, Texas, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York have embraced the new-old extraction method with enthusiasm.
Yet, despite huge amounts of corporate money being poured into misleading pro-fracking campaigns, the public is waking up to the dangerous, destructive truth about fracking. Grassroots campaigns to ban fracking or at least get fracking bans on the ballot have sprouted in states across the country. In some cases, gas companies from other states have taken notice, investing thousands of dollars in local and state level elections to ensure their right to drill for gas, sometimes in the middle of residential neighborhoods.
If you live in any of these communities, and find it very annoying when your water bursts into flames, it might be time to get involved. Show your support by making a donation, or signing their petitions to get fracking placed on the ballot for this or future elections.
1. Michigan - The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan is a citizen-led ballot question committee currently collecting signatures to amend the Michigan state constitution to ban horizontal fracking, in 2014. In addition to banning horizontal fracking, the proposed amendment would ban the storage of waste from horizontal hydraulic fracturing, preventing Michigan from becoming a frack wasteland. Michigan has over 1,000 injection wells and over 12,000 conventional gas and oil wells that could be converted for that purpose. More info at letsbanfracking.org.
2. Colorado – The newly formed Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights recently issued a lengthy statement about their goals to prevent hydraulic fracturing in their community. A Houston gas company wants to drill within the city limits on 18,000 acres it bought last year out of a developer’s bankruptcy. The group says it is organizing to put a community rights based ban against fracking on the ballot in Colorado Springs. North of Colorado Springs, the city of Longmont has become ground zero in the fight to protect residential communities from fracking. Earlier this year, the Longmont City Council approved a new set of oil and gas regulations, meant to keep drilling out of residential areas, and was promptly sued by the state. Now, citizens have been successful in getting a city-wide fracking ban on the ballot, and it will be open for vote on November 6. More info at LongmontROAR.org.
3. New York – Over the past few years, more than 200 grassroots community groups against fracking have emerged in New York. In spite of that, on Fred Dicker’s radio show Governor Cuomo recently said that “The pro-hydrofrackers tend to live in the community … The anti-hydrofrackers tend to be more activists.” After widespread public pressure from people worried that fracking could contaminate drinking water sources for millions of residents both upstate and in New York City, horizontal drilling for shale gas has effectively been halted until the state finishes a comprehensive environmental impact review. Find NY anti-fracking groups here.
4. Pennsylvania – No state has been more central to the debate over hydraulic fracturing then Pennsylvania. Already bearing the wounds of decades of coal mining, communities in Pennsylvania are already seeing increased pollution caused by Marcellus Shale gas drilling in the Southwest region of the state. Like New York, dozens of citizen groups opposed to fracking have formed in protest of the practice. Now cooperating under a unified banner, the coalition of groups has demanded the closure of legal loopholes that allow the oil and gas industry to ignore parts of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and other bedrock environmental laws while fracking. More info at stopthefrackattack.org.
5. California – Environmental groups in California have joined forces to sue the state for failing to properly evaluate the risks of fracking before approving the practice for 600 wells in the state last year. The lawsuit is part of an effort to stop hydraulic fracturing as regulators attempt to devise new rules for the controversial oil and gas extraction practice. Despite the fact that a statewide initiative to ban fracking has seen little support, several cities have already taken action. This summer, the City Council of Culver City voted support a state ban fracking, and similar measures saw support in Los Angeles and Berkeley.
Want to track the latest state and local efforts to stop hydraulic fracturing? Check out this map from Food and Water Watch.
Image via bosc d'anjou/Flickr