Wind turbines near Palm Springs, California. They don't pollute drinking water or
the air we breathe. Unlike fossil fuels. Photo: Freefoto.com
We live in a society that is largely dependent on fossil fuels.
Until we reduce our energy consumption, and/or develop more sustainable, renewable energy, there will be demand to develop domestic oil and gas resources.
Clean energy alternatives exist, but so far the politics in this country have not created the environment to foster the use and growth of renewable, non-fossil-fuel energy sources.
The rise of shale gas drilling has inspired a growing movement of communities across the nation to say no to drilling.
Municipalities like Copperas Cove, Texas, and states like New Mexico and New York have put in place temporary moratoriums on drilling in order to revamp regulations or study the implications of drilling. There are statewide petitions and national campaigns to ban drilling and hydraulic fracturing. And a spate of local governments have passed ordinances to ban drilling-related activities in their communities.
Before adopting local ordinances to ban drilling activities, it is important for communities to be aware that industry is quick to challenge the authority of local governments to regulate oil and gas. Recently, industry has challenged two local drilling bans in New York State: Town of Dryden, and Town of Middlefield; and in Pennsylvania a law was overturned that banned dumping wastewater; and lawsuits have challenged ordinances in Cecil Township, and South Fayette Township.
Other communities, like Pittsburgh, which banned drilling in 2010 have not yet been challenged.
The right of communities to say “slow down” or “no” to drilling is important. Not all communities, however, have the political will to do so. Yet citizens in those communities still have the right to be protected from the impacts of oil and gas development.
Therefore, even while advocating for bans or moratoriums it is important for citizens to continue to work to improve local, state and federal oil and gas regulations, and push companies to use best practices in order to protect the environment and community health.