A glimmer of light: Fracking bans pass across the country
The media is all abuzz about the big conservative wins throughout the country last night. Yet despite the flurry of victories for anti-environmental and pro-fossil fuel candidates, another story is also emerging. Small towns are fighting back against the fossil fuel industry to protect their health and the environment they live in.
Last night towns and counties throughout the country voted to ban fracking in their localities. These victories occurred in the face of strong industry opposition that threw tons of money to try to defeat these bans. Local concerns about health impacts, safety, and pollution swayed voters to support these measures over dishonest industry arguments about economic gains.
Two counties in California – San Benito and Mendocino – passed anti-fracking initiatives by large margins. The San Benito County measure to block fracking and other “high-intensity petroleum operations” won with 57.4 percent of the vote despite being outspent by a whopping 15 to 1. The Mendocino County’s anti-fracking measure fared even better, passing with 67.18 percent of the vote. Voters also supported a mayor and City Council members that have been fighting the local oil refinery in Richmond, California despite intense efforts by Chevron to buy a more favorable council.
These victories did not just occur in places you might expect. The city of Denton voted in favor of a ban on fracking permits. Denton is not a city in liberal New York or left-leaving California, but in oil-rich Texas. Not only did the ban pass, but it passed by a wide majority with 58.6 percent of voters in support. Opponents of the bill outspent supporters almost 10 to 1. Even that was not enough to stop the tide against this dangerous practice in a state that is one of those most heavily impacted.
Meanwhile in Ohio, the city of Athens joined four other communities in the state to ban fracking. Ohio’s location on the Utica and Marcellus Shale reserves makes it a ripe battleground for the fight against fracking. Seventy-eight percent of voters overwhelming supported the measure to create a citizen’s bill of rights to restrict this drilling technique.
These victories are a resounding cry against fracking’s poisoning of local air and water, lowering of property values, and increasing of safety hazards. They demonstrate that even in places that are awash with oil and gas money, communities will vote to protect public health and the environment.