Advocates, Community Leaders condemn new pro-fracking legislation

Annapolis, MD - With the introduction late last week of legislation in the state Senate that would pave the way for fracking in Maryland, a wide array of advocates and community leaders are condemning the bill and reaffirming broad statewide support for a permanent ban on fracking now. On Friday, Senator Joan Carter Conway introduced SB 862, legislation that would enable the extreme gas drilling and extraction method known as fracking to begin in Maryland as early as 2019. Senate Bill 862 was co-sponsored by Senate President Mike Miller along with ten Republican senators. Meanwhile, SB 740, a bill that would permanently ban fracking in Maryland, has been introduced by Senator Bobby Zirkin with strong initial support in the Senate.

Marylanders want a fracking ban: a Washington Post poll in October 2016 revealed more than 60 percent of Maryland voters are opposed to fracking in the state.

In response, members of the Don’t Frack Maryland coalition made the following statements:

Paul Roberts, President of Citizen Shale in Garrett County said, "The pro-fracking bill introduced by Democratic Senate leadership, with support of Republican fracking proponents, is not supported by those of us in western Maryland who would be immediately impacted. No Marylander should ever be asked to support a law that condemns others in our state to the health and economic harms that fracking has done in neighboring states.”

"You can’t be an environmental champion and also support fracking- period,” said Thomas Meyer, senior Maryland organizer with Food & Water Watch. “Senator Conway’s bill is just another attempt by so-called environmentalists to fit the camel that is fracking through the eye of a needle. Fracking will never be safe and should never be allowed. Senators should oppose Conway’s gift to the oil and gas industry, and vote to ban fracking in Maryland once and for all.”

“By promoting yet another set of fracking regulations and a referendum, the Senate leadership is evading its responsibility to protect public health.  No regulations can adequately protect. And no one should be asked to vote on whether or not to poison neighbors,”  said Gina Angiola, MD, Chesapeake PSR.

"Maryland voters overwhelmingly support a ban on fracking, NOT another moratorium," said Brooke Harper, Maryland Field Director at Chesapeake Climate Action Network. "No regulations will ever be able to protect our economy, our climate, or our health from the harms of fracking. We applaud Senator Zirkin and the 22 other senators who stood up for their constituents by introducing a permanent, statewide fracking ban -- and we hope our legislators won't compromise our well-being by supporting a moratorium."

“Sierra Club believes that all Marylanders have the right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. Fracking should not be part of Maryland’s energy future,” said Josh Tulkin, director of the Maryland Sierra Club. “Maryland should continue to focus on bringing clean energy to the state and not be distracted by the fracking’s false promises.”

Dr. Ann Bristow, former commissioner on the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative, said, “SB 862's county-by-county referendum attempts to take a toxic industrial practice and pretend that it's harmful effects will remain in Garrett and Allegany counties, leaving the rest of the State untouched -- as if the production of natural gas in Garrett County will get to market without being compressed and piped through most of the State, as if the polluted air will stop at the the county border, as if the contaminated water won't flow all the way down the Potomac to the Chesapeake bay, as if destruction of the State's 2nd highest producing tourism economy won't affect the State's coffers, as if we're not all somehow connected.” 

Karla Raettig, Executive Director of Maryland League of Conservation Voters said, "We strongly support Senator Zirkin's fracking ban bill. Leadership requires taking a firm stance on tough issues and we applaud Senator Zirkin and his co-sponsors for stepping up."

"We can't sacrifice our clean water resources to a boom and bust dirty energy industry. Waterkeepers and their thousands of members throughout the region strongly support a bill that bans fracking in Maryland," said Robin Broder, Waterkeepers Chesapeake Board Member. “We thank Senator Zirkin and the 22 senators who recognized the need to protect our drinking water resources and public health and introduced a bill banning fracking statewide.”

“The proposed referendum bill is a thinly disguised pro-fracking bill. This referendum would also invite copious amounts of fracking-industry cash for a divisive and misleading ad campaign,” said Elisabeth Hoffman of Howard County Climate Action. “To promote a stable climate and ensure the health of all Marylanders, we stand wholeheartedly behind Sen. Zirkin’s fracking ban bill.”

“The delegate for the area that is most likely to be fracked says that property values are already falling because people are afraid of fracking. Why would you prolong this question any longer and wait for property values to fall even more?” said Dale and Jackie Sams, co-founders of Don’t Frack Western Maryland.

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