Communities around the country are confronting a boom in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and other controversial oil and natural gas extraction techniques that are linked to a range of air pollution, water contamination, and public health issues. For too long, these communities have had little or no defense against oil and gas companies that sweep into their neighborhoods and start fracking without regard for the impact these risky processes have on the people who live there. If a county, city, or town doesn't want fracking, or wants to restrict it, its voice deserves to be heard and respected. NRDC's Community Fracking Defense Campaign defends that right.

Our Work

The Community Fracking Defense Campaign brings the grassroots power of communities facing fracking together with the expertise of NRDC's policy and legal team. Our goal is to support communities already engaged in the fight to defend themselves from the risks of unconventional oil and gas development and to strengthen the ability of communities everywhere to protect their health, their environment, and their way of life from fracking. We work to achieve this goal by helping communities craft effective local laws on fracking, defending those laws in court when challenged, and working at all levels to preserve and protect community rights and local control.

Stories from Pennsylvania

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"Our community is done. There's nothing that can be done for us," a resident of western Pennsylvania says. "But if we can help some other community be aware before they get the little piece of paper saying, 'Hey, this is how we're ruining your life,' that's why we do what we're trying to do."

Sitting atop a vast deposit of natural gas, Pennsylvania is often referred to as 'ground zero' of the shale gas drilling boom in the United States. The state is symbolic of the impacts on communities when fracking is allowed to proceed unabated and without adequate protections for the environment and human health.

Stories from New York

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People really feel like they're fight for their lives here," says Susan Bishop, a resident of Sanford, New York. "They want clean air, clean water, a clean environment and all of that this threatened."

Sanford is located on the gas-rich Marcellus Shale, which extends across the border into Pennsylvania. The Town Board banned residents from speaking out about fracking during their public meetings. The gag order was later repealed after NRDC and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy filed a Freedom of Speech lawsuit.

"All of the sudden there were these signs every place –- 'Detour,' 'Men Working,' 'Seismic Study Ahead,' –- and we're all like 'seismic study, men working – what's going on?" says Pat Lerman, a resident of Aromas, California says. 'The idea of oil drilling coming into town and industrializing the town, changing our style of life, creating dangers to our roads, our water, our air –- right away everybody was concerned."

In San Benito County, a citizens group, Aromas Cares for the Environment, waged a successful campaign for new environmental protections to protect against oil and gas fracking operations. The fracking safety ordinance was passed by the county board of supervisors on June 19, 2013.

Stories from Ohio

fracking in Ohio

"The unfettered access given to oil and gas companies after 2004 in Ohio are coming at a very real cost," says Kari Matsko of the People's Oil & Gas Collaborative-Ohio. "Not just the environmental concerns, but presumptions that they need not abide by zoning as do all other businesses in the state presents many risks. Now that people are coming to see the inequality in the state's oil and gas rules and the industry's development under them, you are going to see a lot more Munroe Falls cases popping up."

A controversial Ohio Supreme Court Case is pitting communities' rights to local control against unfettered oil and gas development. The cities of Broadview Heights, Euclid, Mansfield, and North Royalton, and the Village of Amesville submitted a "friends of the court" brief in a case regarding fracking permits awarded to Beck Energy in the town of Munroe Falls.

Stories from Illinois

fracking in Illinois

Photo: Jimmy Emerson

Illinois' recently-passed fracking law, the Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act, for the first time ensures citizen rights to public hearings concerning proposed permits, to appeal permits that are granted, and citizen enforcement against violations of law or permit. The law also requires bonding and insurance to enhance financial accountability of drilling companies.

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