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article imageOp-Ed: Attention focuses on fracking in Colorado votes

By Robert Weller     Nov 4, 2013 in Science
Boulder - While the nation may not have been watching at all, it certainly was not paying much attention when industry developed a way to make the U.S. the world’s leading energy producer again.
It is through widespread fracturing of shale formations, or fracking as it is more widely known.
In most cases the industry’s word was taken for the fact that this could be done without major damage to the environment, particularly water supplies.
The late John Denver wrote songs about what trusting industry meant.
“And the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the the progress of man.”
Given growing frustration with the effectiveness of government it is no surprise that communities are trying to keep fracking outside their city limits through the ballot box. Four on the Colorado Front Range, Boulder, Lafayette, Fort Collins and Broomfield are voting on such bans Tuesday.
Such bans already have been imposed are being considered from Illinois to Maui to the rural Finger Lakes of upstate New York.
The industry’s alternative to the ballot court is the courts and to buy the commercials you may have already seen. A ban in scenic Dryden, N.Y., is being challenged.
For governments it is anything but an easy choice to make. The environment has to be balanced against jobs that would be created.
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has held back from endorsing or criticizing fracking.
Martha Ferger, 89, a longtime Dryden resident and retired biochemist, worries that the governor has been “just playing it safe so far,” though she hasn't given up on him.
“Maybe he can be seen as a national hero that preserved one spot in the country that isn’t ruined,” she told the New York Times.
The choice won’t be easy for courts either. They tend to allow reasonable use of land, and any alleged damage, even to drinking water supplies, must be proved.
Environmentalists aren’t confining their arguments to the damage they claim from fracking. They consider the practice another short cut to energy independence, and say they distract from finding new, clean sources.
The pros and cons of fracking have been widely debated both here, and in other countries. Europe is taking a go-slow approach.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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