API VP: Elected Officials, Not Voters, Should Make Fracking Decisions

Leaving fracking decisions up to voters is “irresponsible,” according to Louis Finkel, the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) vice president, The Hill reported. Because of the complexity of fracking, elected officials are more suited to make the decision, he said.

“I think these are complicated, difficult issues, and trying to deal with them through means of political campaigns is irresponsible. That is why we have a regulatory process, that is why we have elected officials,” Finkel said.

API recently published an industry standard – the first of its kind – for community engagement in areas of the country experiencing increased development opportunities because of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

In recent months, a number of ballot initiatives in various communities in several states have taken on the issue of fracking, and the outcomes have often resulted in bans on fracking within communities.

In New York state, the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, recently ruled that municipalities have the right, through local zoning ordinances, to ban fracking within municipal boundaries. In Colorado, six different municipalities have had ballot initiatives that allowed voters to decide if fracking would be allowed in their towns. In five of the six, voters banned the practice.

Efforts are underway in Colorado to place a measure on the ballot statewide, allowing local governments to ban fracking efforts for natural gas. If Colorado moves ahead with this effort, and if it is left to local governments to inspect and manage the wells, that would be “irresponsible,” Finkel said.

Finkel, who is a former Democratic strategist, said that it is “incumbent on us to provide voters, and consumers generally, in instances of ballot measures and political campaigns, the right information to make thoughtful choices.”

While the bans have been a “bump in the road,” Chris Faulkner, Breitling Energy CEO, told Rigzone earlier this month, voters will ultimately see the positive effects from fracking and vote accordingly in future initiatives.

“What I think may happen is that people will look at the towns that allow fracking, see the financial gains and lowered taxes in those towns that are a result of letting the drillers in, and they will want them for their town, as well. It’s the same old story of ‘keeping up with the Joneses,’ only this time, the Joneses have the oil,” he said.


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