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Massachusetts seeks 10-yr ban on gas fracking after series of Texas quakes

Published time: November 30, 2013 11:09
Edited time: December 24, 2013 15:01
Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

An environmental committee at Massachusetts Statehouse has approved a bill, imposing a 10-year ban on fracking for natural gas. The move comes as a wave of earthquakes in Texas has raised new concerns over the controversial drilling technique.

The Massachusetts fracking moratorium bill is designed to protect the state’s drinking water from possible contamination and thus "ensure that the health and prosperity of our communities is maintained," according to one of the legislation's sponsors, Northampton Democratic state Rep. Peter Kocot, cited by AP.

To become law, the temporary ban on fracking has yet to be approved by the lawmakers and signed by the Democratic Governor, Deval Patrick.

The Massachusetts legislative move was taken on Friday, the day after Texas was stuck by a 3.6 magnitude earthquake, one in a row of similar episodes during the last three weeks. The finger of blame is being pointed at fracking. The series of small earthquakes caused no casualties, but left local Texas residents fearing worse could be in store.

Fracking is a drilling technique that involves injecting chemical-laden water deep into the ground, exploding it and then pumping it back, together with the gas released as a result of the blast. The water is then separated from the gas and is disposed of by being injected back into the ground.

Anti-fracking sentiment grows among Texans

The smell of chemicals preceded the series of Texas tremors, according to Rebecca Williams, a resident in the town of Azle, which was affected by the most powerful earthquake so far in the series.

We could not figure out where the chemicals were coming from,” Williams told RT. “Then we started having the earthquakes. The earthquakes seemed to be getting stronger. When the 3.6 one happened I tried to get up and run downstairs and my house was shaking so bad, I could not even run.

Williams is sure the cracks in the walls of her house are a direct result of the fracking practices. Meanwhile, in the neighboring Denton County, an anti-fracking activist, Tara Linn Hunter, links her own aggravated health problem to the drilling.

We all live at the foot of a gas well in my town,” she told RT. “The biggest effect it had on me personally is asthma. Nebulizers, inhalers are part of my daily life and that’s become increasingly worse in the five years I’ve lived in this town.

Hunter says 40 percent of energy in Denton comes from wind and most locals would like the practice to expand, but that’s unlikely to happen soon, as some of the “city council members have ties to the oil and gas industry”, according to the activist.

This attitude is shared by Calvin Tillman, the former mayor of Dish, Texas, now an environmental activist, who believes that the oil and gas lobby in Texas is more powerful than in any other state.

I think the oil and gas industry has done all they can do to prevent the renewables from getting a foothold here in the state of Texas,” Tillman told RT. “You know for me to put a solar panel on my house I have to go through a significant permitting process. However, if I want to drill a gas well in my back yard it could probably get done in the afternoon.”

Texas had listed nearly 6,000 oil and gas fracking wells on FracFocus, an industry fracking disclosure site as of March 2012, according to

Supporters of fracking insist that the practice is safe, helps to keep energy prices lower and secures the US’s energy independence.

Comments (32)


Regula 12.01.2014 09:04

How is the practice safe when it causes earth quakes and so many people got sick from pollution of drinking water with methane and chemicals from fracking?

W hen oil prices fall because there will be a surplus in available oil and gas, then this entire fracking emporium will fall and what remains is endless problems with polluted groundwater. All for the buck. Americans will pay the highest prices for gas.


Rob42 03.12.2013 20:10

Ashok Bhagat 30.11.2013 21:05

Your comment is made without adequate knowledge...


My comment is based on the science that has been done by people that know what they're talking about. I don't claim to be a geologist.

"Ther e have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas of gas drilling as well as cases of sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage due to ingested contaminated water."


Mac McDonald 02.12.2013 03:29

Don't believe some lame complaining about Texas not pushing renewable energy, Through the first eight months of the year the amount of power generated by wind farms within Texas’ electrical grid surpassed 23 million megawatts. That’s up almost 20 percent from last year and is the largest increase since 2010, according to data released last week by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
Texas has more wind turbines than any other state. The oil companies own huge shares of most of them. Oil companies are energy companies... They want to make money. Since wind makes them money they will mine the wind.

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