Mora County, New Mexico may have been one of the first communities in the United States to completely ban fracking – the use of water and chemicals to extract oil and gas from the earth – despite the economic benefits that it may have brought to this community of 5,000. Despite an unemployment rate of double the national average, the County decided that the threat of water contamination caused by fracking far outweighed the potential benefits of allowing hydraulic fracturing in the area.
“When you talk about an industry affecting our water, that is really all we have,” John Olivas, Mora County Commission Chairman John Olivas to National Geographic.
The costs and benefits of fracking are being weighed across the country. New York currently has a statewide moratorium on fracking within its boundaries while Pennsylvania is caught in a legal battle with towns who want to regulate fracking within their city limits despite a state law that was supposed to pre-empt municipalities from having that authority.
As technology improves to allow access to fossil fuels that were inaccessible through typical drilling practices, oil and gas exploration is being brought closer to home, literally. Shale deposits have been discovered within Dallas city limits that raise the question of how close to our homes and schools we want fracking activity to take place.
The next battlezone is predicted to be the Monterrey shale deposit in California. It’s believed that the Monterrey shale area contains almost twice as much product as the Bakken play that made North Dakota a competitor with Texas for the highest producing oil state.
Source: National Geographic, “Battles Escalate Over Community Efforts to Ban Fracking,” August 22, 2013