On May 16, 2012, Vermont became the first state to ban hydraulic fracturing, aka. fracking.  Governor Peter Shumlin noted that this legislation may help Vermont set an example for other states.

Image from theheathcaremaze.us

Any AirHugger readers out there from Vermont?  Well, now it looks like Vermont will be known for more than its delicious maple syrup and legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Before we raise our glass to our trusty, progressive ally in the NorthEast, we need to note that there is believed to be little to no natural gas or oil below the surface of the state.

Many fracking advocates are writing this off, saying no big deal.  Many are challenging Gov. Shumlin’s statements, which bring into question the safetyof the fracking process.  They say, Gov. Shumlin is setting a bad example, but whatever- Vermont’s loss.

Image from Environmental-action.org

Sure, a fracking ban in Vermont is an easier victory for anti-fracking activists, but it is important to note that it’s still a win, a big win.  Now, there is precedent for states to ban fracking.

And, Vermont seems like the perfect place to start.

There’s little to no opposition here.  No high paid lobbyists, no false promises of more jobs and no ‘black gold’ to dig for.

BUT, what if other states with little to no natural gas or oil below the surface ban fracking as well?  With Vermont taking the lead here, the road’s already been paved for states like Oregon, Washington or even Maine and New Hampshire.  Although, a ban in states like these would not really hinder the fracking industry, it would serve to strengthen the debate over the potential safety risks of the fracking process.  Which could prompt other states, with shale reserves to pass a ban on fracking.  Imagine a fracking ban spreading throughout the entire Northeast.  What if New York and Pennsylvania passed similar legislation?  This could lead to a significant shift in fracking policies and even serve to create a groundswell of support against the questionable practice.  If the majority of States pass a fracking ban, we could easily see new federal policies and regulation enacted to protect our air, water and our health.

In signing the fracking ban, Gov. Shumlin said one of the more compelling statements I’ve heard in regards to the potential safety risks. “Human beings survived for thousands and thousands of years without oil and without natural gas,” he said. “We have never known humanity or life on this planet to survive without clean water.”

Image from Watercache blog

Someone had to step up and take the lead here, and we should all applaud Gov. Shumlin.  Until fracking is regulated by our trusty Clean Air Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, there are a plethora of safety concerns associated with the practice.  So touche Vermont.  New Hampshire and Maine- it would be great if you could get on board, Vermont could probably use some help here.  And, the more and more states we get to stand in solidarity with Vermont, maybe one day we’ll see similar legislation coming out of Colorado and New Mexico.