Madeleine Smith: Public Opinion Influencing State Decisions

Counties and townships across Pennsylvania and Colorado are rising up against fracking because of a combination of concerns over health and environmental issues that may be related to the process.  Citizens in Boulder, Fort Collins and Lafayette, Colorado, voted in 2013 to pass fracking moratoriums that essentially force the cities to delay drilling until 2018 when the issue will probably be voted on again.  (Rael, 2013).  Pennsylvania does not have as many moratoriums in place as Colorado, but the state Democratic Party has attempted to introduce a bill that would not allow any new drilling permits until after-effects, as well as pros and cons, can be studied and weighed in more detail.  Deep divides between the views of the Democratic and Republican parties in Pennsylvania will likely prevent any consensus on this bill anytime soon (Colaneri, 2013).

Citizens have also voiced concerns about the environmental consequences of installing drilling rigs or wells near natural wonders like Mesa Verde and the Grand Teton National Park (Iberlkamp, 2013).  Drilling in proximity to schools and other populated areas on public land has become a concern that Coloradans are actively attempting to force local politicians to address more aggressively.  Online forums and blogging sites such as EcoWatch allow users to express concern and plea for help.  For example, this user said: “[The Bureau of Land Management’s] proposed rules are too weak and pave the way for corporate profits at the expense of our American treasures” (lberlkamp, 2013).  People across the nation are voicing their opinions louder than ever in the new age of technology and social media.  Transparency will be the key to success if fracking companies want to win over public support.