Two bills to ban a controversial method of extracting natural gas from underground rock deposits known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will move through the Maryland General Assembly this year.
Del. Shane Robinson, a Democrat from Montgomery Village, introduced the House version Thursday, a ban that would go into effect next October if approved by lawmakers. State Sen. Karen Montgomery, a Democrat from Brookeville, will sponsor the Senate version.
“Maryland should not invest taxpayer money into funding studies about fracking — those resources should instead be put towards renewable energy,” said Robinson.
“We need not look further than our neighbors in Pennsylvania to see the kind of destruction fracking is capable of bringing to our residents and our environment."
Environmental groups geared up to fight the state's tolerance of the procedure shortly before the General Assembly reconvened. Members of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network gathered outside the Maryland State House in support of a moratorium that would hault drilling until further studies were completed.
At least one lawmaker has already spoken out against any ban on fracking. Del. Wendell Beitzell (R-Garrett), who represents natural-gas rich Garrett County, said there are enough safety measures in place to continue drilling.
“It has the potential for having a huge economic benefit in our region of the state,” Beitzell told Capital News Service.
“If you want to kill something, just ask for another study,” he said.
Montgomery addressed fracking's potential as a "moneymaker" for the state.
“What is not counted in the equation are the severe environmental problems not addressed, including groundwater contamination by unknown contaminants and the inability to safely dispose of used and contaminated fracking wastewater,” she said.