The tiny town of Pavillion, Wyo., sits in the middle of the state's gas patch, and in the midst of the heated national debate over the risks hydraulic fracturing poses to water quality. Residents complained about well water turning brown after drillers fracked nearby gas wells. In 2011, the EPA released a draft report linking the area's groundwater pollution to fracking ("Feds link water contamination to fracking for the first time," HCN, 12/9/11). The findings helped encourage local governments nationwide to try to gain more control over oil and gas development.
In May, Mora County in New Mexico became the first U.S. county to ban fracking. "I don't want to destroy our water," Mora County resident Roger Alcon told the L.A. Times. "You can't drink oil." The cash-poor but federal land-rich county drafted its ordinance with assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. The BLM also released a second round of public-lands fracking regulations last month, but some environmental groups think they're inadequate.