Virginia’s Capital With No Fracking Is Attempting To Ban Fracking
A city councilman in Virginia’s capital introduced legislation Tuesday to ban hydraulic fracturing in the city limits, even though there’s no such activity occurring there.
The legislation was introduced because fracking is technically legally permitted in certain industrial districts in the city. The council’s land-use committee is scheduled to consider the measure next week.
“While most of us think it’s unlikely to happen in the city of Richmond, it’s a permitted land use and it could occur without the requirement of going before the council or even notifying neighbors,” Parker C. Agelasto, the Democratic councilman who introduced the legislation, told The Richmond Times-Dispatch. “The problem that I have learned in four years on council is that if you don’t say no then it’s automatically permitted and you can’t stop it from happening.”
With the legislation, Richmond joins a number of cities attempting to ban fracking, even though state governments and judges have been almost universally hostile to attempts by local governments to ban fracking.
Colorado’s Supreme Court concluded early last year that only the state government has legal authority to govern fracking, since any ban would be “preempted by state law and therefore, is invalid and unenforceable.” Several state and federal courts have concurred with this decisions, stating that only the state government has the legal authority to regulate fracking. The oil and gas industry of most states is historically regulated by state, not local, government, meaning that only Nevada’s state government can enact a ban.
Industry groups are worried that these types of local fracking rules could create a regulatory “patchwork” that could hamper energy development. Environmental groups The Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Food and Water Watch, and local groups support local bans on fracking largely because they claim it contaminates ground water and makes the air dirtier.
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