NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

State Governments Want to Shut Down Fracking

March 23, 2015

Hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" is a well completion technique key to America's shale boom. Because of hydraulic fracturing, the United States has become the world's top natural gas producer and has gained the capability to become the world's top oil producer. The shale boom has generated a great majority of jobs created since the recession, and created great wealth for the states where shale deposits are found.

Despite the benefits of energy production, hydraulic fracturing bans and draconian regulations have become more and more common at both the state and local level.

  • To date, more than 400 municipalities around the country have passed frac restrictions according to Food and Water Watch, an environmental group that tracks anti-fracturing activism. The trend appears to be increasing nationally.
  • New York passed a statewide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, and more than 200 municipal bans.

Some industry observer dismiss frac bans as inconsequential because they often pass in areas that have little or no frac activity anyway, such as in the case of the statewide ban in Vermont

Can energy producers rely on the states to override local bans to protect their activity? In Texas, probably yes. In California and Colorado, it is much less certain. If public opinion can be a guide, the outlook is not good.

  • Countrywide, in November of 2014, only 41 percent of Americans polled favored the increased use of fracking while 47 percent were opposed.
  • By contrast, just one year before, there was more support (48%) than opposition (38%) to the drilling technique.
  • A 2014 Pew poll shows the most dramatic shift in opinion is seen in the Midwest where support for hydraulic fracturing dropped a breathtaking 16 points from 55 percent to 39 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Source: Santiago Bello, "Hundreds of Frac Restrictions Quietly Sweep Across America," National Center for Policy Analysis, March 18, 2015. 


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