Hogan Signs Fracking Ban Legislation, Environmental Groups Call His Record “Mixed”

A Daily Record article (2017-04-04) reported that Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan signed legislation (HB 1325) that banned hydraulic natural gas fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”) in Maryland. From the article:

House Bill 1325, sponsored by Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo, D-Montgomery, was one of seven bills signed into law. The ceremony was the fourth since last Wednesday, when the General Assembly sent 27 bills to the governor which must be signed or vetoed before Thursday under a rule called the six-day rule, which gives the legislature the opportunity to override a veto before the end of the 90-day session.

Hogan announced last month that he would sign a bill banning the controversial process better known as fracking. Currently, there is a moratorium on the process that was set to expire in October. The new law will take effect on Oct. 1.

A Capital Gazette article (2017-04-04) provided reactions from environmental and energy groups to the ban:

Environmentalists cheered Tuesday as Gov. Larry Hogan followed through on his promise to sign a statewide fracking ban — and some predicted Maryland’s action could bolster efforts in other states to prohibit the controversial method of drilling for natural gas. …

“What Maryland has done here, with Larry Hogan’s support, is not just to protect Maryland but will help protect other states,” said Mike Tidwell, founder of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

The stakes in Maryland were relatively low: The rush by drilling companies to secure land for fracking has passed, at least for now. As the price of natural gas has dropped, Maryland looked increasingly unattractive for fracking.

Drew Cobbs, executive director of the pro-drilling Maryland Petroleum Council called it “more symbolic than anything else” and compared it to a ban that passed in Vermont, where there are no stores of natural gas that could be fracked.

The article also noted that while Hogan has worked with the environmental community on some issues, such as extending the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act and fully funding State Chesapeake Bay programs, environmental groups remain mixed on the Governor’s performance:

“The governor’s [environmental] record has been a mixed bag,” said Josh Tulkin, executive director of the Sierra Club’s Maryland chapter. …

And Hogan has rolled back some environmental regulations, [Chesapeake Bay Foundation Executive Director Alison] Prost said.

Because of Hogan’s actions, it’s easier for farmers to spread manure on fallow fields in the winter —even on frozen ground — and there are looser requirements for controlling stormwater runoff from construction sites. The governor also reversed a requirement that new homes far away from the water must use the same pollution-removal septic systems as those next to the water.

And Hogan vetoed a bill last year that would have set new goals and deadlines for renewable energy, on the grounds that it’s a burden to taxpayers because it drives up electric bills by a few dollars. State lawmakers overrode the renewable energy veto in the first weeks of this year’s General Assembly session.

Useful Links

HB 1325 of 2017

Prior Conduit Street Coverage on Fracking

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