Bill to Ban Fracking in Maryland a ‘Bit of an Uphill Battle,’ Author Admits
This morning, Maryland Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo announced alongside Concerned Health Professionals of Maryland (“a project” of the anti-fracking activist group, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility) that he will propose a bill to instate an eight year moratorium on Marcellus Shale drilling in Maryland.
But to borrow a few phrases from Fraser-Hidalgo himself, achieving a ban on fracking in Maryland will be “a challenge, it’s a bit of an uphill battle, it’s a heavy lift.” And that’s in an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature. As one outlet explained,
“Fraser-Hidalgo is one of 91 Democrats in the Maryland House, which has 50 Republican members. Democrats also dominate the state Senate, by a 33-14 margin.
Fraser-Hidalgo said that even if he is successful at gaining support for his bill from a majority of delegates, he presumes Hogan would veto it. Overriding a veto by the required two-thirds votes in both chambers would be ‘a big lift’ and could take months, he added.”
Part of that “uphill battle” includes the fact the lawmakers in western Maryland, where shale development would take place, “want to see drilling go ahead, with what they consider suitable regulations,” as the Baltimore Sun reported today.
“We’re committed to ensuring that Marylanders have access to the economic opportunities associated with fracking.”
After Governor O’Malley made that announcement, the Washington Post published an editorial explaining,
“The first thing to note about Mr. O’Malley’s plan is that it admits a crucial point: Drillers can conduct fracking operations with an acceptable degree of safety and environmental sensitivity. Many other states came to this conclusion years ago.”
The editorial board concluded:
“It’s past time that Maryland began allowing energy companies to proceed with fracking, with a sensible eye toward safety.”
That was also the conclusion of the Maryland Departments of the Environment and Natural Resources, which found in a report that the risk of water contamination is exceedingly low and that Maryland’s regulations can effectively manage the risks of fracking.
And it’s not just Maryland’s regulators who have said that the risks of fracking are manageable. President Obama’s top environmental regulator, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy said, “There’s nothing inherently dangerous in fracking that sound engineering practices can’t accomplish.” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has said the risks of fracking are absolutely “manageable.” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said that fracking bans are “the wrong way to go” and that fracking “has been done safely for many, many years.”
What today’s announcement shows more than anything is just how marginalized the ban-fracking agenda has become: elected officials on both sides of the aisle have looked at the science and rejected anti-fracking activists’ claims, not only Maryland, but in also in Colorado and other deep blue states like California and Illinois. That’s an uphill battle for anti-fracking activists indeed.