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Oil Company Efforts Target Municipal Fracking Bans

October 28th, 2014

Voters from Pennsylvania to Texas to California will vote on municipal fracking bans at the polls next week. While environmental groups and public safety watchdogs have campaigned in support of the fracking bans, numerous oil companies have poured millions of dollars into efforts to prevent any prohibitive measures from passing at the ballot box. In some instances, political action groups formed by the oil industry have outspent fracking ban proponents by nearly 20 to 1.

Environmental Concerns Spur Fracking Bans

The practice of pumping high-pressure liquid jets into shale deposits to extract hard-to-reach oil and gas deposits, better known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” has become popular with the oil industry in recent years. However, recent reports have shown that waste products from the fracking process include volatile organic chemicals, including benzene and toluene, which are known carcinogens. Dozens of cities and counties, ranging from New York to Colorado, have enacted fracking bans to protect their residents from these harmful effects.

Energy Companies: Fracking Bans Will Hamper Economy

Oil producers claim that the same areas seeking to enact new fracking bans are the ones who have benefited the most from the fracking boom of the last five years. The boom period has led to an increase in the number of jobs in exploration, transportation and refining. If the fracking bans receive approval from the voters, the oil companies believe that the economies in those areas will suffer as jobs will disappear and energy costs will rise.

Massive Spending to Stop Fracking Bans

The oil industry group Californians for Energy Independence is working toward combating several proposed fracking bans across the state. The CEI group has received more than $7 million in contributions from energy giants such as Occidental Petroleum, ExxonMobil and Chevron. The group has received more than $5.7 million to fight a proposed fracking ban in Santa Barbara County, outspending supporters of the ban by 19 to 1, and has outspent fracking opponents in San Benito County by a 15 to 1 margin.

Texas Fracking Ban Fight Gets Nasty

A proposed fracking ban ballot measure in Denton, Texas, a suburb north of Dallas, has received some of the most intense attention from opponents. The city of 123,000 lies near the center of the oil-rich Barnett Shale, one of the most productive fracking sites in the country. The state’s powerful oil industry has reportedly accused anti-fracking activists of having ties to Russian oil interests. Two activists who were campaigning for the fracking bans allegedly received death threats. Despite outspending the activists by more than 5 to 1, the latest polls commissioned by the oil companies show a tight race for the ballot measure.

Sources: New Republic

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