SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is now officially banned in Santa Cruz County. It's the first county in the state to make this move against the controversial oil-drilling technique.
County supervisors hope this ban sends a message to state leaders. Tuesday's decision comes almost a year after the county placed a temporary moratorium on fracking in September 2013.
"Today we are so thrilled that Santa Cruz County is the first county in California to ban fracking," said Adam Scow, California Director of Food & Water Watch.
The group held a rally outside the Santa Cruz courthouse Tuesday to celebrate the 5-0 vote. Santa Cruz County supervisors imposed a ban on fracking, as well as on other on-shore oil and gas development.
"For the state to say drilling would be okay but we'll do the research later is irresponsible public policy action, so local communities like ours have to stand up and say what is right," said Supervisor John Leopold.
Leopold led the movement in the county which began last year.
For fracking opponents like Randa Solick, that was a step in the right direction, but the ban makes it permanent.
"It's not just an ordinance which can be overturned, but a prohibition against oil and gas fracking," said Solick.
Before the vote, three supervisors spoke of their concerns on fracking saying that fracking procedures like those already used in Kern County, could have an impact on the state's drought. The other big worry is that fracking could increase the danger of earthquakes.
"We live near the San Andreas Fault, we don't know how many of those wells are going to be compromised," said Solick.
The ban comes as other Central Coast counties consider similar ordinances. A grass-roots group recently gathered enough signatures to put fracking up for a vote on the November ballot. Supervisor Leopold hopes Santa Cruz County is a good influence.
"We are sending a message to the rest of the state that not only is it important to do it, but you can do it," said Leopold.
Supervisor Leopold said county leaders were advised there is little chance they will face litigation from oil companies over today's decision.