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Fracking in Vermont

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Fracking in Vermont
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Fossil fuels present None[1]
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Fracking in Vermont depends on available energy resources, the location of these resources, applicable laws and regulations, politics, and the power of environmental and industry groups. Decisions by policymakers and citizens, including state and local governments and ballot initiatives, affect if and how fracking occurs in a state. Vermont has no oil or natural gas reserves, and as such there is no fracking occurring in the state.

Although the state does not have any natural gas or oil reserves or production, Vermont nonetheless became the first state in the nation to ban fracking. On May 16, 2012, Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law H. 464, which bans both the practice of fracking and the collection, storage or treatment of fracking wastewater in Vermont. Shumlin said, "I hope other states will follow us. The science on fracking is uncertain at best. Let the other states be the guinea pigs. Let the Green Mountain State preserve its clean water, its lakes, its rivers and its quality of life." In a statement, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry advocacy group, said the state was embarking upon an "irresponsible path that ignores three major needs: jobs, government revenue and energy security."[2][3]

Fracking background

See also: Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is the process of injecting fluid--mostly water and sand, but with additional chemicals--into the ground at a high pressure to fracture shale rocks and release the oil and natural gas inside.

Recent technological advances in oil and gas drilling--horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing--have created a wealth of opportunities and challenges for states with fossil fuel reserves that can be accessed through the combination of these two technologies. The increased use of fracking has been an economic boon for many states, not only those with fracking, but also those with supporting industries, such as frac sand mining or associated machinery manufacturing.

Opponents of fracking argue that the potential negative environmental and human health impacts could be significant. Although wells have been fracked for over 65 years in the United States, concerns have been raised about whether federal, state and local regulatory agencies can keep up with the recent rapid increase in fracking activity, and adequately protect the environment and human health. As with any type of energy extraction, either traditional or renewable, there are economic, environmental and political trade-offs.

Natural gas use in Vermont

See also: State Energy Rankings
For more information on energy consumption in Vermont, see "Energy policy in Vermont"

Nearly half of Vermont residents employ fuel oil, derived from petroleum, to heat their homes. Only 4 percent of Vermont's residents use electricity to heat their homes. Both natural gas and liquified petroleum gases (LPG) make up about 15 percent of the consumption of energy for home heating.[1]

Consumption of energy for heating homes in Vermont
Source Vermont 2011 U.S. average 2011
Natural gas 15.2% 49.5%
Fuel oil 47.7% 6.5%
Electricity 4.2% 35.4%
Liquid Petroleum Gases (LPG) 15.4% 5%
Other/none 17.4% 3.6%

Because the state does not produce natural gas, it has to import its supply from Canada and New York. The majority comes from a small pipeline from Canada. The crude oil that Vermont depends on comes from Canada, Maine and North Dakota. Some of the pipelines in the state have been constrained because of ecological concerns about environmentally sensitive areas.[1]

Vermont has only one natural gas distribution company, Vermont Gas Systems (VGS). The Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) regulates VGS.[4]

Where electricity comes from in Vermont[5]
Type Amount generated (MWh) % of state** % of U.S.**
Nuclear 448,000 72.85% 0.06%
Hydroelectric 96,000 15.61% 0.03%
Other renewables 69,000 11.22% 0.03%
Total net electricity generation 615,000 100% 0.01%
**Note: Because the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) does not include all of a state's energy production in these figures, the EIA totals do not equal 100 percent. Instead, we have generated our own percentages.

News items

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