Maryland Senate approves fracking ban; governor to sign bill

By Allen Cone  |  March 28, 2017 at 2:28 PM
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March 28 (UPI) -- Maryland's Senate approved a ban on fracking in the state, a bill Gov. Larry Hogan has pledged to sign.

Senators voted 35-10 Monday to approve the legislation that prohibits drilling for natural gas known as hydraulic fracturing. Earlier, the House of Delegates had approved the same bill 97-40.

Earlier this month, Hogan announced his support of the legislation.

Maryland would join Vermont as the only states that ban fracking through legislation. Vermont does not have the shale formations containing natural gas where fracking could be done but Maryland has it in the western part of the state.

New York, which also has shale gas, banned it by executive order.

"This vote confirms the power of participant democracy," Ann Bristow, a resident of Garrett County in Western 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."

In fracking, water, sand and chemicals are injected deep into the ground at high pressure to break up rock and release natural gas.

Water contamination, greenhouse-gas emissions and earthquakes are problems associated with fracking, according to opponents.

"This ban is a major step for Maryland's path to a clean energy economy," said Josh Tulkin, director of Maryland's Sierra Club, one of the groups in the Don't Frack Maryland Coalition, said in a statement.

"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," he also said.

Advocates say it's cleaner energy source than coal.

"This politically motivated decision moves Maryland further away from the state's economic and environmental goals," Drew Cobbs, director of the Maryland Petroleum Institute, said in a statement after the vote. "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."

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