Prince George's County Bans Fracking

The Prince George's County Council voted unanimously to ban hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, on Tuesday. 

The Council changed zoning laws to prohibit fracking after several grassroots organizations and community members worked together to gather support for this issue.

Fracking and horizontal drilling have been correlated to water contamination, according to a 2015 study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

"The public health and environmental dangers of fracking are far too real," Martha Ainsworth, chair of the Sierra Club's Prince George's County Group. "We cannot risk our and our children's future by allowing this to happen in Prince George's County."

Volunteers from organizations, like the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Food & Water Watch and the Sierra Club, offered presentations on the potential dangers of fracking and provided more than 1,000 signed petitions to councilmembers. 

Prince George's County is particularly vulnerable as its southeastern third is located atop the Taylorsville basin, which holds about 500 billion cubic feet of gas. Having more than 4,000 drinking wells also puts the county at risk for water contamination. 

The affected area is also situated near gas-fired power plants and natural gas export facilities. 

Other local counties also have ruled on fracking. Montgomery County changed zoning law ordinances that essentially prohibit this controversial gas production technique. 

In February 2015, King George County in Virginia stopped short of banning fracking because of potential lawsuits, but the county council plans to implement stricter zoning regulations to limit gas and oil drilling. 

Washington, D.C., City Council has also taken a stance on the issue, prohibiting fracking for natural gas in the George Washington National Forest in 2014.

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