Where Fracking Was Banned This Year

by April Glaser

December 22, 2015

Fracking was banned in two states this year, and Scotland joined the growing number of nations that have said no to the hazardous drilling process. Activism against fracking is mounting fast, and 2016 is going to be even bigger.

Shale Fracking in Texas

© Les Stone / Greenpeace

From Shell receding from its Arctic drilling plans to the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, 2015 will be remembered as the year when Big Oil lost big. And it wasn’t only on national fronts where the fossil fuel industry took at hit.

Two states this year passed statewide moratoriums on fracking – New York and Maryland. What’s more, the entire country of Scotland has halted fracking projects nationwide, joining Ireland, the Netherlands, and France in the list of countries where this method of fossil fuel extraction is banned.

Fracking is an industrial process that breaks apart rock formations deep underground to extract fossil fuels like oil and natural gas. A major problem is that the process of getting to the fossil fuel deposits requires a massive amount of water, averaging at 3.6 million gallons of water for every well drilled. That water is mixed with chemicals that are injected into the rocks at extremely high pressures, allowing gas to flow out of the head of the drilling site.

Contaminated water from fracking has made its way into drinking water reserves across the country and the effects of these chemicals on communities and individual health is understudied , under-reported, and under-regulated.

In New York state, after years of research and the submission of tens of thousands of public comments to the state environmental regulators, the governor of New York approved a moratorium on fracking in 2014 and put the official ban in place in 2015.

Maryland was another state to officially say no to fracking, putting a ban on the gas extraction process for the next two and a half years in the state. While Maryland isn’t being targeted by the fossil fuel industry for its energy resources, it is sandwiched between two states rife with dangerous fracking, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. This is a bold move, and it didn’t go unnoticed. When states ban fracking, it further confirms our opposition to dangerous fossil fuel projects and builds momentum for other states to follow suit.

Finally, in Scotland we saw the government instill an indefinite ban on fracking until a full scale study can be done on the public health and environmental impacts of the drilling method.

These victories serve as proof of the growing tide of public opinion to keep dirty coal, natural gas, and oil in the ground. Drilling for and burning more fossil fuels is the opposite of what we should be doing in response to climate change.

2016 is going to be another big year in the fight against fracking. Oil and gas companies already have the rights to frack on some 30 million acres of public land in the United States, but they want more. In fact, they’re targeting more than 200 million additional acres of public lands for fracking, much of it in national forests, state parks and the areas surrounding national parks. And in states like Colorado and California, two of the largest markets for fracking projects, we’ll have to stand strong next year to make sure our call to protect our climate and our public lands is heard loud and clear.

We’re thrilled to see strong campaigns develop in across the country, from Florida to California, powered by diverse, passionate voices demanding that the health of our communities is worth more than corporate profits.

Let’s make these fracking victories the beginning of a revolution against fossil fuels. Are you in?

April Glaser

By April Glaser

April is a mobilization specialist for Greenpeace USA's online team, focusing on the Arctic campaign. Prior to Greenpeace, April was an organizer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where she worked on a wide range of digital rights issues; her writing has appeared in Slate and Wired, to name a few.

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