Governor Peter Shumlin made history today when he signed into law H.464, making Vermont the first state in the nation to ban natural gas fracking.
He says he hopes the law will be a model for other states to follow. It's largely symbolic for Vermont, where there's little, if any, natural gas underground.
96 towns in NY State have banned fracking and people are working hard to get a state-wide ban. New Jersey banned it for a year.
"Fracking for gas is not the solution to our energy needs, it's part of the problem," says Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. "I'm proud that Vermont has a governor who understands the difference between a problem and a solution and is willing to stand up for renewable energy over fossil fuels."
Shumlin says it's not worth risking water supplies to get more natural gas. "In the coming generation or two, drinking water will be more valuable than oil or natural gas."
The American Petroleum Institute says Vermont is pursuing an "irresponsible path that ignores three major needs: jobs, government revenue and energy security."
America's Natural Gas Alliance says the Vermont law is "poor policy that ignores fact, science and technology. Natural gas is being produced "safely and responsibly."
There have been over 1000 reports of contaminated groundwater since fracking began and it's also connected to the increase in earthquakes.
They are also releasing methane into the air, making fracking more polluting than coal. Oil and gas companies can cut methane emissions 80% and get $2 billion a year in revenues by capturing methane. Capturing through the production cycle would reduce US methane emissions by a third, the equivalent of pollution produced by 50 coal-fired power plants.
Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued federal air pollution standards for fracking, although it caved to industry by postponing implementation for three years. Fracking produces cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that cause region-wide smog. The Dept of Interior also issued weak rules for fracking on public lands, requiring companies disclose the chemicals they use only after projects are completed.
A rally is planned at the US Capitol July 28, "Stop the Frack Attack." Community groups and organizations across the country have signed on in support of the event.
Actor Mark Ruffalo started the organization Water Defense, whose campaign, Natural Gas Exxposed, shares the stories of people all over the US who have been devastated by gas companies poisoning water, taking over their land, and exposing them to earthquakes. You can watch the videos here: