Last night, over 800 people showed up to a townhall in Azle,Texas to talk to the Texas Railroad Commission (which regulates oil and gas development, not railroads) about earthquakes connected to fracking.
In oil crazy Texas, in years past, the very fact of evidence supporting the need for drilling caution would have served as impetus for this event to become a pro-drilling rally.
But not last night. Last night, for the first time I know about, it was not just my colleague Sharon Wilson and eco-minded folks, but a broad cross section of Texans in large numbers at the meeting. And they called not just for caution; the demand in Azle, Texas was for an all out halt to fracking and waste injection.
Coupled with the de facto moratorium on fracking that the city of Dallas passed last month, we are seeing a sea change in the Lone Star state.
These are not isolated incidents. Across the country, opposition to irresponsible oil and gas development is building to a crescendo:
- De facto moratorium in New York
- De facto moratorium in Maryland
- Pennsylvania State Supreme Court decision allowing local communities control over fracking
- Multiple community fracking moratoriums in drilling-friendly Colorado
- Multiple community fracking bans across the country
- Building opposition to fracking in California
But in some ways, Texas is more important because the state has always been the heart of the U.S. oil industry, embracing oil and gas development from its earliest years and pioneering fracking in the Barnett Shale. In political terms, Texas is the oil and gas industry’s base.
So when Texans are willing to stand up in open democratic processes – first in Dallas and now in Azle, and say “no” to oil and gas development, it’s a sign that times are a changing. If Texans aren’t willing to live with fracking, then it may be impossible for anyone to live in harmony with fracking.