Since last year, states including North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas have outlawed local fracking bans. Leaders say that the bans are an overreach of city power and that they damage an industry important to the state’s bottom line.
Yesterday (June 28), a group of mayors responded in kind. In a statement released on the heels of this year’s Conference of Mayors, 33 mayors from 14 states demanded more control over fracking within their jurisdictions.
“As leaders of our nation’s cities, we are strongly opposed to efforts by state legislatures, and state and federal officials limiting the ability of communities to protect themselves from the harms of industrial fracking,” the statement begins.
The fracking process involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and more than 600 chemicals harmful to human health into the earth to stimulate the flow of natural gas and oil. This drilling can lead to the contamination of surrounding drinking water sources. Exhaust from the diesel trucks fracking companies use pollutes the air in surrounding areas.
Fracking has been associated with increased asthma rates, unsafe drinking water and even more earthquakes. The city leaders especially emphasized how close drilling sites are to residential areas, homes, schools and playgrounds.
Research in Pennsylvania, North Dakota and California shows that fracking disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color. In California, for example, almost 80 percent of children living near active wells are Latinx and non-White. Southern Texas doesn’t have it any better. People in high-poverty communities were closer to a well than the low-poverty ones.
At the three-day U.S. Conference of Mayors, which took place in Indianapolis and ended June 27, mayors also proposed other climate and energy-driven resolutions, such as those to increase wind energy production and improve local water infrastructure (something that would have helped the City of Flint avoid its toxic water crisis).
Read the mayors’ complete fracking statement here.