Around the world, resistance is growing to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as more and more communities line up to ban the controversial fossil fuel extraction method from their lands.
On Tuesday, Victoria, Australia's Premier Daniel Andrews announced that the state is set to introduce a permanent ban on all onshore unconventional gas exploration, including fracking and other methods like gas mining, making it the first state in the nation to do so.
The Department of Premier and Cabinet said, "It is clear that the Victorian community has spoken. They simply don't support fracking." The government will introduce legislation for the ban later this year, and the Herald Sun added that it would also extend the current moratorium until June 30, 2020.
According to one organizer, about 1.4 million hectares of land were threatened by some form of onshore gas mining like coal seam gas, underground coal gasification, and shale gas.
The government also said the ban would help protect Victoria's agricultural sector and pacify Australian farmers' concerns over the potential health impacts of fracking, which has been linked to cancer, birth defects, migraines, and fatigue, among other maladies.
"The fracking industry continues to lose friends all over the world. Community opposition to the fracking and unconventional gas industry has been fierce right across Australia and thankfully the Victorian Government has listened to these concerns," said Dr. Richard Dixon, Scotland director at the environmental group Friends of the Earth. "From a global climate change perspective, it is encouraging to see fossil fuels being kept in the ground. Developed nations need to rapidly move away our reliance on these dirty, destructive energy sources and embrace clean, safe renewables."
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Ellen Sandell, the Australian Green Party's energy spokesperson, said the decision is "a relief to communities that have fought the threat of fracking for years."
"This decision proves the power of grassroots advocacy. Individuals have won over powerful and influential mining companies," Sandell said, though she added that it was "disappointing the government is leaving the door open to conventional gas drilling after the next state election."
"We won't stop fighting until all onshore gas drilling is banned," she said.
And just a day earlier, the climate advocacy group 350.org noted that more than 70 Brazilian cities have also approved fracking bans, culminating in a total of 72 cities prohibiting the extraction method since the launch of the No Fracking Brazil campaign in 2013.
"It is important to show the fracking entrepreneurs that people will not passively accept the destruction caused by the fossil fuel industry," Nicole Figueiredo de Oliveira, 350.org's Latin America regional team leader, said in a statement on Monday. "We will continue empowering the local communities to resist this government's offensive and urging public officials to invest in renewable energy projects instead of expanding fossil fuel extraction, so that we can have a sustainable, secure future."