Maryland will soon become the third state in the nation to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and natural gas. The news comes as a huge success to Don't Frack Maryland, a cooperation between 140 business, public interest, community, faith, food and climate groups, that has campaigned intensely for the ban through grassroots organization.
On Monday the Senate voted 35-10 for a measure already approved by the House. Mitch Jones, Food & Water Watch senior policy advocate said of Monday’s outcome: "Today's vote is a result of the work of thousands of Marylanders who came out to town halls, hearings and rallies across the state. The grassroots movement to ban fracking overcame the high-powered lobbyists and deep pockets of the oil and gas industry. We worked tirelessly to make sure our legislators and the governor were held accountable to the demands of voters and followed the science. Now we look forward to Governor Hogan signing this bill into law and finally knowing that our water, climate and families will be protected from the dangers of fracking."
Indeed it is surprising that Republican Governor Larry Hogan, who previously had been very pro-fracking, even calling the practice " an economic gold mine," is supporting the ban now. "We must take the next step to move from virtually banning fracking to actually banning fracking," the governor said. "The possible environmental risks of fracking simply outweigh any potential benefits.”
New York and Vermont are the other states that have banned fracking, with an executive order and with legislation, respectively. Maryland is the first state with gas reserves to pass a ban through legislative action.
Garrett and Allegany counties are the communities that have received the most attention from fracking industries. Opponents from those towns supported the ban because they feared fracking could contaminate water sources, bring potential earthquakes, and increase greenhouse-gas emissions.
“This vote confirms the power of participant democracy,” Ann Bristow, a resident of Garrett County and a member of a state commission that studied fracking. “Never believe when someone tells you that an organized movement can’t produce change against overwhelming odds. We are proving otherwise.”