Will NY fracking ban trigger ‘domino effect’ that reaches CA?

by Chris Reed | December 26, 2014 7:00 am

nyfracking2California environmentalists and government regulators have long prided themselves in pioneering new rules and restrictions. But now it appears a liberal East Coast state has taken the lead in dealing with one of the day’s most controversial environmental issues. This is from NationalGeographic.com[1]:

New York’s decision to ban fracking [2]for health reasons could reverberate beyond the state, bolstering other efforts to limit the controversial method of drilling for oil and natural gas.

While two dozen U.S. municipalities and at least two countries, Bulgaria and France, have also adopted bans, states have been slower to act. Fracking opponents say New York, which surprised them Wednesday with the boldest move of any state so far, will change that.

“It definitely has a national political impact … It really has a domino effect,” says Deb Nardone, director of the Sierra Club’s Keeping Dirty Fuels in the Ground[3] initiative.

She and other activists say the measure could intensify pressure to roll back nascent fracking plans in California, Illinois, Maryland, and North Carolina, and to help secure a permanent ban in the Delaware River Basin, which supplies drinking water for nearly a thousand community water systems in the mid-Atlantic region. It could also buoy efforts in various state legislatures, many of which return for a new session in January.

Anti-fracking measure succeeds in Central Valley

There is little question that California greens will mount an intense new effort to ban fracking. They were intensely disappointed in Gov. Jerry Brown’s seeming agnosticism on whether fracking was bad for the environment when a compromise state law was passed in 2013. Rules stemming from that law will go into effect in July 2015[4].

Greens’ success last month in getting rural San Benito County[5] to ban fracking, however, could lead to a statewide ballot initiative — not to a new fight with Brown, Republican lawmakers and oil lobbyists over legislation in Sacramento. The victory of the ban in the poor, mostly Hispanic, heavily Democratic county was unsurprising, especially because of the local arguments that suggested fracking would take even more water away from the Central Valley.

A silver bullet to boost Dem turnout?

But one element of the ban’s victory was extremely heartening for Democratic strategists in a constant struggle to find new ways to excite the base and increase turnout. This is from The Los Angeles Times[6]:

Fracking opponents here were vastly outspent by oil companies that fought a measure to ban well stimulation techniques such as fracking, acidizing and steam injection, along with conventional drilling in some areas. With just $130,000, the homegrown campaign managed to draw 57% of San Benito County voters to the polls in a low-excitement midterm election. They held off oil companies that spent nearly $2 million opposing the initiative.

If fear of fracking is such a powerful tool to generate Democratic turnout in a small agricultural county, imagine its potential power to get out college students and marginal voters in a big urban area. Democratic officials are likely to support placement of an anti-fracking measure of some sort on the November 2016 ballot even if they think it goes too far or even if they, like the Obama administration[7], believes fracking is just another heavy industry.

This strategy isn’t just likely in California but in states across the nation.


  1. NationalGeographic.com: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/12/141218-fracking-ban-new-york-states-oil-gas-drilling-energy-news/
  2. decision to ban fracking : http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/18/nyregion/cuomo-to-ban-fracking-in-new-york-state-citing-health-risks.html?smid=tw-bna&_r=3
  3. Keeping Dirty Fuels in the Ground: http://content.sierraclub.org/ourwildamerica/sites/content.sierraclub.org.ourwildamerica/files/documents/dirty-fuels-clean-futures-report-2014.pdf
  4. July 2015: http://blogs.kqed.org/science/2014/07/11/californias-new-fracking-regulations-delayed-half-a-year/
  5. San Benito County: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06/06069.html
  6. The Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-san-benito-fracking-20141129-story.html#page=1
  7. like the Obama administration: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/17/us/interior-proposes-new-rules-for-fracking-on-us-land.html?_r=0

Source URL: https://calwatchdog.com/2014/12/26/greens-believe-ny-ban-will-trigger-fracking-domino-effect/