California Voters Enact Major Fracking Ban

(REUTERS/Luke MacGregor)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Monterey County, Calif. residents approved a ballot measure to ban hydraulic fracturing Tuesday.

The ban, dubbed Measure Z, received nearly 56 percent of the vote, meaning Monterey County is now the seventh county in California to ban fracking. It’s the first county with a sizable oil sector to ban fracking.

Measure Z bans not only ban fracking, but also another oil production technique using acid to extract oil. The county’s existing 1,200 existing oil wells will be allowed to continue operating.

The vote was closely watched by environmentalists and oil industry groups since it’s one of the first local fracking bans proposed in an oil-producing region. Monterey County has been producing oil since the 1940s, and California has been producing oil since the 1850s.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders supported the initiative and urged voters to ban fracking, saying “I hope very much that Monterey County will continue the momentum that makes it clear that fracking is not safe, and is not what we need for our kids.”

Industry groups are worried that this type of local fracking rules could create a regulatory “patchwork” that could hamper energy development in California. Environmental groups The Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Food and Water Watch, and local groups currently support local bans on fracking largely because they claim it contaminates ground water and makes the air dirtier.

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