Maryland Legislators Ban Fracking Statewide

| by Ethan Brown

The overwhelming Democratic legislature in Maryland was enough to curtail Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s plans to veto legislation that would have banned the practice of fracking in the state.

Hogan’s previous stance on the issue indicated he would veto any attempt state Democrats made on banning fracking on all state land. Even if the governor had vetoed the legislation, an override of his veto would likely have occurred, as Democrats in the legislature had enough votes to control the issue. For example, the state House passed the measure 103 to 33 while the state Senate voted in the affirmative 45 to 2.

The legislation forces the state to implement new regulation by the end of next year that have been previously suggested by scientists as a way to combat any negative environmental effects of fracking. Due to the bill, fracking permits will not be issued until October 2017, The Daily Caller reported.

Hogan refused to sign the bill, saying he still supports the idea of fracking in the western portion of the state, which is rural, as opposed to heavily populated areas like Baltimore and Prince George’s County, which are more urban.

Hogan criticized his predecessor, Democrat and presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, for “kicking the can down the road” and “trying not to make any decision” about authorizing the practice, The Washington Post wrote.

Matt Clark, a spokesman for Hogan, said that the governor “continues to support the safe and responsible development of energy to meet the current and future needs of citizens and to promote job growth in Western Maryland.”

The Maryland Petroleum Council voiced its disapproval on the vote, saying that Western Maryland residents will not receive the economic benefits they deserve.

“We think it unnecessarily draws out the regulatory process. Most Marylanders are already benefiting from shale development because of lower energy costs and cleaner air. Unfortunately, because of this delay, the folks in western Maryland who could benefit from natural gas development will have to wait to take advantage of this safe and proven technology,” said Drew Cobbs, executive director of the group.

Fracking has been seen as an alternative to mining coal and drilling for oil in ocean waters. The process of fracking involves using safe chemicals, water and sand to break shale formations underground. Once the shale is broken, machinery extracts oil and natural gas supplies.

Many states, including Maryland and New York, have a vast amount of shale that has yet to be used. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, banned the practice last year on information that was reportedly researched by anti-fracking groups.

Sources: The Daily Caller, The Washington Post

Photo Credit: University of Maryland