Mixed results in local US anti-fracking votes

2014-11-05 12:42


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Los Angeles - Opponents of fracking, a method of extracting oil and natural gas, had only mixed success on Tuesday with ballot measures to ban the practice in a handful of US towns and counties.

The cities of Denton, Texas and Athens, Ohio, as well as Mendocino and San Benito counties in California, passed measures outlawing fracking.

But Ohio municipalities Gates Mills, Kent and Youngstown rejected similar initiatives, as did Santa Barbara County in California.

The measures were backed by environmentalists concerned about fracking's effect on drinking water and the environment in general. Fracking supporters worried that, if successful, the measures could inspire a domino effect of bans in more cities and towns.

Although the votes were limited to very small geographic areas, they took on a symbolic importance for people on both sides of the fracking debate in the US.

Denton is the first city in oil- and gas-rich Texas to ban fracking, even as gas production has reaped big profits for the city. In Ohio, a shale energy boom has brought jobs and cash to some communities, as well as earthquakes triggered by fracking, according to studies.

Meanwhile, alongside its green-energy reputation, California is a major US producer of fossil fuels. A coalition of energy companies spent more than $7.7m to fight the measures in Santa Barbara and San Benito counties alone, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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