Maryland to Join List of States Banning Hydraulic Fracturing

New York and Vermont have both banned the controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Maryland is on the verge of joining that list.

On March 10, the Maryland House of Delegates approved a bill, by a vote of 97-40, indefinitely banning fracking statewide, and on Monday evening, March 27, the state Senate approved the bill as well by a vote of 35-10. The bill now moves to the desk of Governor Larry Hogan for signature. Governor Hogan has pledged his support for the ban despite the opposition from some in his own party who view fracking as an economic boost for the western parts of the State. Supporters of the ban often express health and environmental concerns, and fears about property devaluation.

The ban comes at a time of uncertainty in the State regarding this practice. A two-year moratorium on issuing permits for fracking was set to expire on October 1 of this year. However, state environmental regulators had proposed rules late last year governing oil and natural gas exploration and production; the fate of those rules is now up in the air. Adding to the uncertainty is President Trump Administration’s recent steps to advance fracking on public and tribal lands, while also expressing a desire to put regulatory decisions like this in the hands of the individual states.

If signed into law, Maryland will be the first state in the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale region to legislatively ban the practice of fracking. New York banned the practice in 2015 by executive order of Governor Andrew Cuomo, not by legislative action. Vermont has a legislative ban, but since Vermont is not part of the Marcellus Shale region, such as New York and Maryland, it does not have any natural gas reserves that would otherwise be targeted by fracking. Other states have introduced similar legislation banning fracking, but they have not become law. Please check back to this blog for updates.

This blog was written by Van Hilderbrand, Jr. at Miles & Stockbridge.

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