Natural Gas

Published on March 3rd, 2014 | by Tina Casey


Fracking Ban-memtum Builds On Both Sides Of The Pond

March 3rd, 2014 by  

Local communities that are pushing for a ban on fracking will get a helping hand from the British green energy company Ecotricity, which is launching a new short film this Thursday to boost public awareness about negative impacts of the unconventional gas and oil drilling practice. Meanwhile, here at home the Los Angeles city council has just voted in a moratorium on fracking, and the city and county of Broomfield, Colorado announced that the results of a voter-approved moratorium have been upheld after a recount.

Fracking Bans
Fracking LA by Eric Gustafson

The Ecotricity Anti-Fracking Campaign

Ecotricity is something of a fan favorite over here at CleanTechnica, both because of their stellar green cred and their compelling promotional work.

The new Ecotricity anti-fracking film is the third in a series produced by the unabashedly political company, following the success of its “Dump the Big Six” campaign urging U.K. energy customers to cut their ties with the top six conventional energy suppliers.

The new campaign is in support of Ecotricity’s announcement that it has become the first British energy company to refuse shale gas from fracking. In addition to the online launch, Ecotricity will support the campaign with its solid social media platform. Despite its relatively small size, the company claims that its social media followers number more than almost all of the top six British energy companies.

With characteristic Ecotricity humor the new campaign features flatulent chimneys and the tag line, “Don’t squeeze the last gas out of Britain.”

One target of the campaign is the company Centrica, which announced a major investment in British shale gas last summer on behalf of its British Gas holding.

The battle over British fracking is bound to heat up even more given the events unfolding in Ukraine, Crimea, and Russia, with are bound to roil European energy markets.

Meanwhile, here at home…

Another piece of anti-fracking news comes from Broomfield, Colorado, which was the scene of a furiously contested fracking ban (actually, a five-year moratorium) that narrowly passed in a ballot question last fall.

By narrow, we mean 17 votes. That made the results subject of an automatic recount, which Broomfield has just announced as being upheld by the Colorado 17th Judicial District Court.

The final tally: 20 votes in favor of the moratorium.

The big news out of the US this past week was Los Angeles, where the The Los Angeles city council just voted unanimously to impose a moratorium on fracking within its limits.

That makes LA the largest US city to ban fracking, though there are still some t’s  to cross in the process. The next step is for the city to draft an ordinance and set an effective date.

The moratorium is significant both because of the sheer size of the locality involved, and because the moratorium specifically states that the ban will be in effect until fracking can be proven safe.

There are thousands of derelict wells  as well as a few active ones — who knew? — within Los Angeles, and the concern is that some of those out-of-service wells could be reactivated or “stimulated” with fracking or an acid based treatment.

With the fracking safety question embraced by a major US city, that provides a nice, juicy hook for other local governments to hang their fracking bans on, so stay tuned for more activity to come.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • Doug

    It didn’t help that the oil and gas companies have been dumping Fracking chemicals into the ocean. When people found out that this activity was totally unregulated and unmonitored, they kinda freaked out.

  • Rick Kargaard

    Over 2.5 million fracturing operations have been conducted world wide with over a million in the united states.
    Fracturing has been used to increase water well production and may be used to increase geothermal production of steam.
    There is a wide variety in fracturing jobs ranging from common fracs to enhance production from conventional oil and gas wells to the multi stage fracs used to make production economic from “tight” formations such as the Bakken in North Dakota.
    It is fracturing that has sharply reduced U.S. dependency on foriegn oil, at least temporarily. It is also the reason natural gas prices have been at historic lows.
    Although fracking within highly populated urban and suburban areas should be scrutinized carefully for each project, an outright ban seems to make little sense, given the few instances of actual problems directly associated with the procedure.

    Water use is another issue. A frac may use as much water as about 15 households use in a year. However, this is not necessarily potable water and much may be recycled for future fracturing

    • nullbull

      Risk is made of likelihood and impact. Both of them. Are fracking accidents unlikely, given the amount it is done? You bet. But that’s not the problem. The problem is the impact – Oil spills are very unlikely too. Go tell folks in the Gulf of Mexico and Valez, AK how unlikely they are, and ask them if they give a damn. Go tell the people in PA and WV with flammable or poisonous drinking water how unlikely fracking problems are and ask if that matters to them.

      It is completely rational for people to consider not just the likelihood, but the IMPACT fracking might have, and act accordingly. Unlikely events with catastrophic impacts are to be avoided, and telling people they are unlikely isn’t going to make a difference. Nor should it.

      • Rick Kargaard

        Driving or riding in automobiles is one of the riskiest pursuits in normal life. 33,561 deaths in the U.S in 2012.

        There is also a huge environmental cost. Much of which is uncontrollable, such as people disposing of used oil down the drain.
        This does not prevent the use of personal transportation. Reasonable controls are implemented to reduce the risk, including speed limits and regulations for car safety.

        Fracking should be regulated and not banned, as should all activities with an element of risk.
        That said, the percieved risk from fracturing seems to be very much higher than past incidents would warrant.

        A little perspective is in order

    • Doug

      The problem with Fracking Rick is that oil and gas frackers are not informing the public of the chemicals involved, not straight on the hazards, not subject to proper regulation, not policing themselves and they are gagging opponents.

      If these companies performed Fracking with a reasonable amount of transparency, the public would be better informed, these operations would be run better and there would not be all this speculation regarding the actual truth.

      However, hiding Fracking in the shadows is how the industry wants to play the game so that they can cover up their activities. The light will be turned on – it’s inevitable.

  • nullbull

    The brilliant thing about this effort, much like the residential solar / power buyback efforts locally, is that it forces often hypocritical politicians to face their hypocrisy head-on. Namely, you say you are for “the free-market” and “local control,” but many of their biggest contributors are monopolies or de-facto monopolies. So, what’s more important, your giant energy company contributor or your “local control” ideology and constituents? In other words, do you care more about oil and gas producers or the right of local citizens to ban activities that are costing them. Also, what’s more important, your large utility contributors or your belief that the free-market must have a low barrier to entry and a price for commodities based on supply and demand – regardless of whether the commodity is produced en masses by a big coal plant, or bit by bit by small producers in their homes and businesses?

    • Must create quite a bit of cognitive dissonance for many conservative politicians. Why we’re seeing some break away and push hard for solar.

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