Society

Maryland Bans Fracking Across State

| by Ray Brown

The Maryland General Assembly approved a statewide ban on fracking, which is expected to be signed into law by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

The legislation is a win for environmentalists who oppose the practice of drilling for natural gas, known as hydraulic fracturing, and is the result of years of activism within the state, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The bill easily passed the Maryland General Assembly with a bipartisan vote of 35-10.

"This vote confirms the power of participant democracy," Ann Bristow, Garrey County, Maryland and a member of a state commission that studied fracking told The Washington Post. "Never believe when someone tells you that an organized movement can't produce change against overwhelming odds. We are proving otherwise."

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"We commend the Maryland General Assembly for this bipartisan victory, and we thank Governor Hogan for his support, but the real congratulations go the thousands of people across the state, particularly those in Western Maryland, who stood up for their beliefs, who organized, lobbied, and rallied to get this legislation passed," Sierra Club Maryland Chapter Director Josh Tulkin. "The Sierra Club applauds their efforts and is proud to continue to supporting Western Maryland as it pursues a thriving and sustainable economy and community."

Once Hogan signs the bill into law, Maryland will become the second state in the country, after Vermont, to enforce a statewide ban on fracking.

Because Vermont doesn't have shale formations that contain natural gas, Maryland will become the first state to ban fracking where the practice can actually take place, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Republican state Sen. George Edwards voted against the ban and supports the practice of fracking, but admitted that the ban will become law and, in effect, issue a defeat for the state's fracking supporters.

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"The fat lady has sung. The game is over," Edwards said, reports The Baltimore Sun. "As far as I'm concerned after tonight ... the discussion of the issue is over."

Drew Cobbs, director of the Maryland Petroleum Institute, denounced the vote and said it would have a negative impact on the state.

"This politically motivated decision moves Maryland further away from the state’s economic and environmental goals. Denying Maryland consumers, businesses and job-seekers the benefits that come with in-state energy production through hydraulic fracturing shuts the door on an important share in the American energy renaissance and Western Maryland’s future economic growth," Cobbs said in a statement posted on the American Petroleum Institute's website.

Sources: The Baltimore Sun, Sierra Club, The Washington Post, API / Photo credit: Joshua Doubek/Wikimedia Commons

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