The Puna community has been raising concerns about fracking on the island for a while now. Robert Petricci, president of the Puna Pono Alliance – one of the prominent organizations standing opposed to geothermal on the island – has been sounding the alarm over the last few months.
Fracking – also known as hydraulic fracturing – is the process of forcing fractures in a rock layer, usually by pressurized fluid. Lately – in lands far from Hawaii – it has been used to force oil and natural gas from shale. But concerns have been raised over the safety of fracking and the effects on the environment. And it is believed by many that the next wave of geothermal development may deploy a form of fracking, also known as advanced geothermal systems.
ANIMATION: Advanced Geothermal Systems (NMANewsDirect)
Now, the island is taking its opposition to the next level. Hawaii County Councilwoman Brenda Ford is proposing a ban on fracking on the Big Island.
Bill 129 drew lots of testimony during a hearing before the council’s Committee on Agriculture, Water and Energy Sustainability on Tuesday, most of it in favor, thanks largely to the residents of Puna who are against geothermal industry in their backyard.
State Senator Russell Ruderman was there to testify. The Puna senator spoke about his recent attempts to address fracking at the state legislature. His bill never even made it to committee. He says it was blocked by committee chair, Senator Malama Solomon.
The council bill had the support of the council committee. It now goes to the full council with a positive recommendation.