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Massachusetts seeks 10-yr ban on gas fracking after series of Texas quakes

Published time: November 30, 2013 11:09 Edited time: December 02, 2013 20:05

An environmental committee at Massachusetts Statehouse has approved a bill, imposing a 10-year ban on fracking for natural gas. The move comes as a wave of earthquakes in Texas has raised new concerns over the controversial drilling technique.

The Massachusetts fracking moratorium bill is designed to protect the state’s drinking water from possible contamination and thus “ensure that the health and prosperity of our communities is maintained,” according to one of the legislation’s sponsors, Northampton Democratic state Rep. Peter Kocot, cited by AP.

To become law, the temporary ban on fracking has yet to be approved by the lawmakers and signed by the Democratic Governor, Deval Patrick.

The Massachusetts legislative move was taken on Friday, the day after Texas was stuck by a 3.6 magnitude earthquake, one in a row of similar episodes during the last three weeks. The finger of blame is being pointed at fracking. The series of small earthquakes caused no casualties, but left local Texas residents fearing worse could be in store.

Fracking is a drilling technique that involves injecting chemical-laden water deep into the ground, exploding it and then pumping it back, together with the gas released as a result of the blast. The water is then separated from the gas and is disposed of by being injected back into the ground.

Anti-fracking sentiment grows among Texans

The smell of chemicals preceded the series of Texas tremors, according to Rebecca Williams, a resident in the town of Azle, which was affected by the most powerful earthquake so far in the series.

“We could not figure out where the chemicals were coming from,” Williams told RT. “Then we started having the earthquakes. The earthquakes seemed to be getting stronger. When the 3.6 one happened I tried to get up and run downstairs and my house was shaking so bad, I could not even run.”

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