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In Symbolic Gesture, Mayors Back Local Control of Fracking

More than 30 mayors have signed a statement urging the federal government and state legislatures to support local control of hydraulic fracturing (fracking). But the move was mostly a symbolic gesture because fracking isn't performed in most of the cities and towns that the signatories represent.

According to Environment America, an anti-fracking group, 33 mayors signed a statement supporting local control of fracking laws following the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors in Indianapolis, which concluded on Monday.

"It is no surprise that a growing number of communities are moving to halt or regulate fracking within their borders," the letter said. "The notion that our communities have the right to govern on issues and activities that threaten public health or the quality of life of their residents has a long tradition in law. This principle is the basis of public health ordinances and local land use rules, including zoning, which often involve tradeoffs with property rights and other interests.

"In light of the foregoing, we believe that all communities should have the right to decide whether, where, and how industrial fracking operations -- including not only well pads, but waste disposal facilities and all related infrastructure -- happen within their borders."

The mayors of the two largest cities on the list were Charlotte, NC’s Jennifer Roberts and Portland, OR’s Charlie Hales. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto also signed the letter, but he was the only mayor in Pennsylvania to do so. Only nine of the remaining 30 mayors to sign the letter represented cities or towns with populations of 100,000 or more.

Corinne Platt, mayor of Ophir, CO, represented the smallest town on the list of signatories. The town, which had a population of 164 in 2013, is in San Miguel County.

Other signatories of note included Longmont, CO’s Dennis Coombs and San Bruno, CA’s Jim Ruane. Last May, the Colorado Supreme Court struck down bans and moratoria on fracking in Longmont and Fort Collins, CO (see Shale DailyMay 3). Fracking opponents in Colorado are currently trying to get restrictions to fracking put on the November ballot (see Shale DailyJune 7).

A natural gas pipeline rupture and explosion in San Bruno killed eight people in 2010 (see Daily GPI, Sept. 15, 2010).

Eight mayors from California and seven from Florida signed the letter. Colorado and North Carolina each had two mayors sign, followed by Massachusetts and Oregon with two apiece. One mayor from Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania (Peduto) and Wisconsin also signed.

State lawmakers in Oklahoma and Texas both enacted legislation last year affirming the state's regulatory primacy over oil and natural gas activities (see Shale DailyJune 1, 2015May 18, 2015). Meanwhile, lawmakers in North Carolina also lifted a moratorium on fracking last year (see Shale DailyMarch 17, 2015).

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