The major motion picture, “Promised Land” tells the story of a fictional small town faced with a choice: whether or not to allow oil and gas companies to drill in the community. The company wants to use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a controversial process where millions of gallons of water and chemicals known to cause cancer – are injected into the ground under high pressure to break rocks and release oil and gas.
Real communities in dozens of states are facing a similar choice. More and more, they are saying no to industrial oil and gas drilling. Nationwide, some 308 towns have passed measures limiting fracking – from improved protections to outright bans. This past November, voters in two towns in Ohio and one in Colorado all approved referendums banning fracking by wide margins.
The story doesn’t end there. Industry and its supporters have begun filing lawsuits against these communities. Longmont, Colorado, is fighting a legal challenge, as are four towns in upstate New York. New York courts already have ruled in favor of two of the towns – Dryden, NY, where there was a bipartisan, unanimous vote, and Middlefield, NY. These decisions are up on appeal, and oral arguments are expected in mid-March.
Deborah Goldberg, Managing Attorney with Earthjustice, is representing Dryden, NY in its appeal. Ms. Goldberg is a seasoned spokesperson, most recently appearing on the public radio debate program Intelligence Squared (http://www.npr.org/2012/07/02/156158754/the-natural-gas-boom-doing-more-harm-than-good)
Jessica Ennis is a Legislative Representative in the Washington, D.C. office of Earthjustice. She advocates protecting people, our public lands, and the environment from the potentially devastating impacts of oil and gas development. Prior to Earthjustice, Jessica worked for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) on the Americans for Health Care Campaign, and as a reporter and copy editor for a local newspaper in Maryland. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with dual bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Government & Politics and a citation in environmental studies.
- Some 308 communities have passed measures limiting fracking – from improved protections to outright bans: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/fracking/fracking-action-center/map/
- Click here: Fact Sheet: On Fracking | Earthjustice
- More than 150 communities in New York alone have passed fracking bans and moratoriums: http://www.fractracker.org/maps/ny-moratoria/
- In November 2012, voters in Longmont, CO passed a referendum banning fracking. The town was promptly sued by an energy lobbying group: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/26/us/with-ban-on-fracking-colorado-town-lands-in-thick-of-dispute.html
- In November 2012, two communities in Ohio passed referendums banning fracking: http://www.ohio.com/blogs/drilling/ohio-utica-shale-1.291290/broadview-heights-mansfield-approve-anti-drilling-provisions-1.348611
- In July 2012, a Pennsylvania court tossed out provisions of a controversial state law – Act 13 – that sought to override local zoning laws related to fracking: http://articles.philly.com/2012-07-28/news/32890243_1_major-gas-producing-state-natural-gas-law-marcellus-shale
- In February 2012, two separate courts ruled that two New York towns that had passed zoning ordinances prohibiting oil and gas development were legal: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2012/02/decision_on_drydens_fracking_b.html
- An appeals court ruled in January 2012 that the city of Carlyle, Illinois had the right to ban oil and gas drilling within town borders: http://lawoftheland.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/il-appeals-court-holds-city-may-prohibit-through-zoning-drilling-of-gas-or-oil-wells-within-city-limits/