Annapolis, Md. – A group of nearly 100 residents from all across Maryland rallied in Annapolis today to call on the Senate to pass a moratorium on fracking this session. On Wednesday, the Maryland Senate Committee on Education, Health and Environmental Affairs passed an amended version of a bill, which was originally introduced by Senator Karen Montgomery as an 8-year moratorium. The amended version would not allow fracking to begin until October 2017 but would require regulations for fracking to be developed in the meantime. Many advocates are concerned with the new language of the bill, and are discussing amendments to strengthen it with the Legislature.
This bill has made more progress in this session than any other fracking legislation has made in Maryland before, but activists argue that there is still work to be done in order to get the strongest moratorium delivered to Governor Hogan’s desk. State Senators and Delegates were among those who attended the rally in support of a moratorium in the legislature.
“Personally, I prefer my tap water non-flammable and have always loved Maryland without an epidemic of earthquakes,” said Senator Jamie Raskin, District 20. “So I favor a fracking moratorium while we try to determine whether fracking can actually be made safe for our water, land, and people.”
The lead sponsor of the bill, Senator Karen Montgomery said that “when the long term consequences of fracking activities on our water and our air are not understood, it is valuable to observe the results in adjacent states, such as Pennsylvania, for a minimum of ten years.”
Delegate David-Fraser Hidalgo introduced a similar bill in the House, which passed in the Maryland House of Delegates last week.
“I feel confident that this movement is going to succeed and that the people of Maryland want more time to address their concerns about fracking’s impact on our environment and their public health,” stated Kumar Barve, Chairman of the House Environment and Transportation Committee.
“With 94 out of 141 delegates in the House voting in support of the three-year moratorium on fracking in Maryland, we are very encouraged and hope the Senate will pass this bill in its original form.” said Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo, District 15, lead House sponsor of HB 449.
Western Maryland real estate agents and business owners argue that fracking could negatively affect the real estate and tourism industries that are a large revenue source for that part of the state, where much of the fracking would occur.
“There is no ‘undo’ button if and when fracking comes to Western Maryland,” said Bob Orr, a realtor and business owner In Western Maryland. “There has been no study on the effect fracking would have on the tourism-based industry of Garrett County, which could be devastating. To kill the tourism industry for the sake of fracking industry profit is short-sighted.”
Western Maryland residents also delivered over 1,000 messages supporting a fracking moratorium to Governor Hogan and also to Senator George Edwards, who represents a part of the state where fracking is most likely to occur, to challenge his claim that his constituents would welcome fracking near their homes and businesses. And the town of Friendsville, Maryland also sent a letter to the Senate President, Senator Mike Miller, urging him to allow a moratorium bill on the Senate floor.
“Two thirds of Garrett County water flows towards our kitchen sinks, and we drink it!“ said Jess Whittemore, Town Council Member of Friendsville. “The Mayor and Town Council agree with the Maryland House of Delegates that fracking is an ‘Ultra-hazardous Activity’ and Friendsville does not want it.”
Contact: Ryanne Waters, (818) 371-0912 (c), rwaters[at]fwwatch[dot]org
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