Hydraulic fracturing bans had eight at-bats last Tuesday. Here are the results.
See the Ballot Question in a recent entry.
“To establish a community bill of rights for residents and natural communities of Athens and to protect those rights by prohibiting shale gas and oil extraction and related activities; and by elevating the rights and governance of the people of Athens over those privileges bestowed on certain extraction corporations.”
Gates Mills, Ohio
“Shall Article II of the Charter of the Village of Gates Mills be amended to add Section 4, Gates Mills Community Bill of Rights?”
The amendment itself was described as a “poorly drafted populist-like approach to changing all manner of laws in our village charter”. The proposition included additional rights such as the “right to pure water”, “right to be free from toxic trespass.”
“Shall the proposed amendment to the Charter of the City of Kent adding Section 4 et seq. to Article I, Incorporation; Form of Government; Powers, under the heading titled Community Bill of Rights be adopted?”
The effect of the “Community Bill of Rights Fracking” would be to:
- Prohibit “unconventional natural gas extraction using horizontal hydraulic fracturing”
- Ban “the establishment of infrastructures supporting gas production”
- Ban “the storage, transportation or depositing of gas drilling waste products” in Youngstown.
Santa Barbara County, California
“Initiative to Ban ‘High-Intensity Petroleum Operations’ including but not limited to Well Stimulation Treatments and Secondary and Enhanced Recovery Operations such as Hydraulic Fracturing, Steam Injection and Acid Well Stimulation Treatment on all Lands within Santa Barbara County’s Unincorporated Area.”
San Benito County, California
“Shall San Benito County’s General Plan be amended to ban High-Intensity Petroleum Operations (such as hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, acid well stimulation, and cyclic steam injection, but not Low-Intensity Petroleum Operations) throughout all unincorporated areas, and all Petroleum Operations in residential general plan designations of Rural, Rural Transitional, Rural Residential, Rural/Urban, and Sphere of Influence Rural/Urban, with related zoning changes to implement the new General Plan policies?”
Mendocino County, California
“An Initiative to Assert the Rights of Residents of Mendocino County in Order to Secure Clean Water, Air and Soil and Freedom From Chemical Trespass. Which Would Ban Hydraulic Fracturing, Directional and Horizontal Drilling, and Waste Injection Wells in the County of Mendocino and Invalidates Any and All Laws Contrary to this Purpose to the Extent They Effect the County of Mendocino.”
What does it mean?
- We are in the middle innings of the debate. More of these votes are sure to come as reserves are discovered in places where people live.
- There is a home field advantage. Drivers of the Denton vote were lackadaisical local regulation leading to wells in places where voters thought they shouldn’t be, and vocal and organized proponents.
- As nasty as a Randy Johnson fastball on the inside edge of the plate, citizens without mineral rights and the royalty checks that come with them, get cranky when noisy, ugly industrial activities jam and ruin their roads and otherwise interfere with their lifestyle. They vote in large numbers.
- The industry whiffs on the hanging curveball. The perceived risks – groundwater contamination, air pollution, earthquake damage – are fears, not well grounded in science. The industry can’t convince some voters otherwise.
- As with the Yankees, it’s not about the money. Industry outspent the opposition by substantial amounts, sometimes with success, sometimes not.
- Like a spring-training game, there are times when the outcome doesn’t matter. There is no fracking (and for all I know, no oil and gas activity) in San Benito County.
- Sometimes the player off the bench makes the winning play. Results appear not to be based on predictable factors. Denton is heavily Republican and banned fracking. Athens votes Democratic and refused a ban. (The labor unions were against it).
- Don’t underestimate the stolen base. They say it’s only about “fracking”. But without fracking it’s really about drilling.
New players in different places will be called on to participate.