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Maryland Passes 2.5 Year Fracking Ban

Today, the Maryland House of Delegates passed legislation, voting 102 - 34, that would prohibit fracking permits in the state until October 2017. The bill will head to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's desk in the coming days.

After months of campaigning, a bill that prohibits fracking for two and a half years passed overwhelmingly in the Maryland legislature. Photo credit: Don't Frack Maryland

Earlier this week, the Maryland State Senate passed the legislation, voting 45-2, to prohibit fracking permits in the in the state. The governor's position on the bill is unknown, but the Senate and House passed the bill with a veto-proof majority.

“After months of campaigning, a bill that prohibits fracking for two and a half years passed overwhelmingly in the Maryland legislature today," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. "This is a testament to the growing movement to protect our communities from the dangers of fracking. Conventional wisdom in the state was that we could never get a moratorium passed in Maryland, just as we were also told we could never get a ban in New York. But naysaying just inspired us all to work harder in bringing the voice of the people to Annapolis in this grassroots initiative. Now it is time for Governor Hogan to heed the call of the people and sign the bill that gives Marylanders more time to examine the impacts of fracking."

Business owners in Western Maryland have expressed concern that fracking would greatly impact the booming tourism industry in that part of the state. More than 100 Western Maryland business owners signed a letter to the leadership of the General Assembly in support of the fracking moratorium.

“Maryland’s more sustainable businesses, like farming, tourism and restaurants would be devastated by fracking," said Eric Robison, owner of Eagle Rock Construction, LLC and president of Save Western Maryland. "We don’t need a short term boom and bust economy, we need to maintain a strong economic foundation for future generations.”

Don’t Frack Maryland has sent more than 25,000 messages supporting a moratorium. Letters signed by more than 100 health professionals, and more than 50 restaurant owners, chefs, winemakers and farmers from across the state have also been delivered to the General Assembly. And last night, the Friendsville Town Council, whose city is the center of a thriving white-water rafting industry in the state, sent a letter supporting a moratorium to President Miller, urging him to encourage a vote in the Senate.

Earlier this week, actor and Maryland native Edward Norton lent his support to the Maryland fracking moratorium in a radio ad. The ad, paid for by Food & Water Watch, features Norton speaking out about how fracking could harm Maryland’s environment and public health, as well as tourism in the state.

Polling has also shown that a clear majority of Marylanders oppose fracking and support action from the General Assembly to prevent drilling in the state.

"This moratorium will give legislators more time to evaluate the public health, economic and societal dangers of fracking, and give our communities statutory protections against drilling in the meantime," said Dr. Ann Bristow, a commissioner on Governor O'Malley's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, on behalf of the Don't Frack Maryland campaign.

According to Food & Water Watch, more than 425 peer-reviewed scientific studies on the effects of shale gas development now exist, and 75 percent of those have been published since January 2013. Of the 49 studies that investigated the health effects of fracking, 47—more than 96 percent—found risks or adverse health outcomes.

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