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David vs Goliath

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California county bans fracking, even though big oil spent big money to stop it.

In a rare bit of good environmental news, voters in California’s fourth-largest oil-producing county passed a measure to ban fracking and other fossil fuel extraction techniques. Proponents won even though oil companies outspent them 30 to one.

“David beat Goliath in Monterey County’s stunning victory against oil industry pollution,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “This triumph against fracking will inspire communities across California and the whole country to stand up to this toxic industry.”

Fracking, the process of extracting natural gas from underground, emits high levels of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. It also contaminates ground water, has been linked with a variety of health effects, and is connected to the emergence of thousands of earthquakes in the midwest.

Fracking remains popular in other parts of the country. In Colorado, voters approved an amendment supported by the oil and gas industry that will make local fracking bans harder to pass.