A bill presented by the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources looks to impose a temporary ban on all hydraulic fracturing operations until at least 2024. Its backers say the bill is an attempt to protect the state's water reserves and the natural resources. If Massachusetts bans fracking it will be the second state to prohibit such operations, after Vermont.

Environmental groups claim that many communities in the Pioneer Valley have groundwater as their only source of drinking water and putting that in danger of contamination should not be allowed, the Associated Press reported. The ban will ensure that the health and wellbeing of the communities is maintained, according to one of the sponsors of the bill, Peter Kocot. Before becoming law, the bill needs to be approved by state lawmakers and signed by Gov. Deval Patrick.

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Opponents of the ban say that fracking is a safe way to extract shale gas that would otherwise remain inaccessible. They point out that Massachusetts may have limited shale deposits in the western part of the state and that a ban on fracking would mean that these reserves could not be extracted.