The Senate Committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs has passed legislation to ban hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) as a means of extraction in Maryland, setting the stage for a statewide ban on the practice. Governor Hogan’s announcement of his support late last week has triggered this new direction in the session-long debate.
Throughout Maryland’s 2017 legislative session, there has been debate over whether to ban the drilling practice known as fracking indefinitely or to put another two-year moratorium in place.
The House passed a veto-proof majority bill on March 10 that would install a permanent statewide fracking ban. A House bill identical to one sponsored by state Sen. Robert “Bobby” Zirkin has cleared the Senate Education, Health and Environment Committee.
Because of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s previous support for natural gas drilling if done safely, the Senate committee’s chair, Sen. Joan Carter Conway of Baltimore City, told reporters that, while she would support the ban, she did not think it was worth bringing to a floor vote without a veto-proof majority.
Conway’s committee voted 8-3 Wednesday to advance the bill to the Senate floor, making a floor vote possible as soon as this or early next week. According to legislators and activist groups, the ban has the needed majority support in the Senate.