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New Mexico County First To Ban Fracking In U.S.

Huffington Post, 29 May 2013

Mora County, a conservative ranching community in New Mexico, is the first U.S. county to ban the practice of fracking, according to reports from the Los Angeles Times. Wells are the only source of water in Mora, which is why last month officials announced a countywide ban on fracking citing water safety concerns.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial process involving the high-pressure injection of undisclosed chemicals into rocks containing natural gas or oil.

"I don't want to destroy our water," 63-year-old Mora County resident Roger Alcon told the LA Times. "You can't drink oil."

The county is a tiny, low-income ranching area that lies less than 100 miles northeast of Santa Fe. In voting for the ban, local landowners turned down potentially lucrative royalty payments from fracking companies, according to the report.

Pittsburgh in 2010 became the first U.S. city to outlaw fracking, with city officials citing threats to drinking water and public health. Since then, more than a dozen East Coast cities have followed suit, and efforts to enact a statewide ban are currently underway in California.

The Interior Department is working to finalize new draft rules requiring companies that drill for natural gas on federal lands to disclose the chemicals used in their hydraulic fracturing operations. Meanwhile, the American Petroleum Institute is pushing to extend the public comment period, arguing the rule "has the potential to significantly impact domestic energy production, as well as national, state, and local economies."

Interior is already under pressure from the House Natural Resources Committee to slow down on fracking rules, according to reporting from The Hill.