Scotland banned fracking last week, implementing an indefinite moratorium while the government studies environmental and health impacts of the oil and gas extraction technique, according to the BBC.
The nation joins a small but growing group of cities, counties, states and countries that have prohibited fracking, including some locations in the technique’s Texas birthplace.
Scottish officials stated several concerns with fracking that will be investigated: earthquakes, water pollution and “inappropriate development in the countryside,” according to the BBC.
Fracking -- short for hydraulic fracturing -- is a process in which a mixture of water, sand and chemicals is pumped at extremely high pressure down a well to shatter shale bedrock. Many small pockets of oil or gas, trapped as if in Swiss cheese, are cracked open and sucked to the surface. Since 2008, the technique has made available massive swaths of oil and gas reserves and boosted US oil production to the world’s highest.
In the US, Texas is the largest oil producer. Fracking was born near the city of Denton, so it caused an upset when voters there outlawed the extraction technique last November. Industry voices protested and the state’s oil and gas regulator contested Denton’s authority to instate the ban, but it held.
Also last November, two California counties and an Ohio city passed fracking bans, while Boulder County, Colorado, extended a 2012 ban pending the release of a National Science foundation study on environmental effects, slated for release in 2017.