Maryland House committee advances fracking moratorium bill

BILL WOULD PUT A THREE-YEAR HOLD ON PERMITS FOR HIGH-RISK DRILLING PRACTICE

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ANNAPOLIS—Legislation that would institute a moratorium on fracking advanced today in the General Assembly, with the House Environment and Transportation Committee voting 16 to 6 to pass the Protect Our Health and Communities Act (HB 449) on to the House floor. As amended ahead of the committee vote, the bill will place a three-year hold on the issuance of drilling permits in Maryland.

Today’s vote followed an outpouring of grassroots and business support for the bill in recent weeks, along with polls showing a clear majority of Marylanders oppose fracking and want the General Assembly to take action to prevent drilling in the state.

Health professionals, Western Maryland landowners and environmental advocates applauded delegates in the House committee, including bill sponsor Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo, for taking a critical first step today to prevent potentially irreversible harm to the state’s air and water and local tourism and agricultural economies:

“This is a vital step forward in protecting the health of Maryland residents. Given that health research is just emerging on this new extractive technology, and what we are seeing thus far is deeply concerning, today’s vote acknowledges the need for more time to assess impacts in neighboring states,” said Gina Angiola, MD and Board Member of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility. “There would be little to gain and much to lose by allowing fracking to begin in Maryland at this time. We call on the full General Assembly to pass this legislation expeditiously and on the Governor to sign it.”

“It’s extremely gratifying that so many people and their representatives recognize the importance of uniting Mountain Maryland with those who surround the Chesapeake Bay. Today’s vote is a critical step toward protecting the clean air, pure water, and thriving small businesses that attract visitors and allow us to make a living in Appalachian Maryland,” said Paul Roberts of Citizen Shale and owner of Deep Creek Vineyards. “It’s essential that the General Assembly pass a fracking moratorium, and do it this year, to secure our local tourism economy and heritage.”

“Today’s vote responds to mounting evidence that fracking is dangerous to our health, and mounting public opposition to putting Marylanders in harm’s way of the gas industry. We applaud Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo, Chairman Barve, and committee delegates for their leadership, and we look forward to passing this bill out of the House and the Senate and onto the governor’s desk,” said Shilpa Joshi, Maryland campaign coordinator at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

Contact:

Kelly Trout, 240-396-2022, kelly@chesapeakeclimate.org
Shilpa Joshi, 503-998-8630, shilpa@chesapeakeclimate.org

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Don’t Frack Maryland brings together a diverse group of public interest organizations, businesses, and faith groups from across Maryland and the United States. For more information on the statewide campaign for a moratorium on fracking in Maryland: http://www.dontfrackmd.org


This update was originally published here.