Government and Politics Top Stories

Maryland Bans Fracking for Next 2 Years

Fracking has been banned in Maryland for the next two years as Gov. Larry Hogan let a bill pass into law without his signature last week. He had until May 29 to sign it, veto it or let it go into effect by default.

The legislation prohibits the issuance of fracking permits in the state until October of 2017, and requires that Maryland’s Department of the Environment create a policy framework for the controversial process.

When campaigning last year, Hogan strongly supported fracking, the common term used for the hydraulic fracturing process. It involves pumping pressurized liquid into the earth in order to crack apart rocks deep underground, and harvest natural gas and petroleum. But even had Hogan vetoed the bill in question, the legislature would have had the three-fifths majority needed to overrule his decision.

Spokesperson Matt Clark said on the governor’s behalf that he “continues to support the safe and responsible development of energy to meet the current and future needs of citizens and to promote job growth in Western Maryland.”

The bill’s supporters say this two-year delay will give the appropriate parties time to compile all the relevant scientific data and make a stronger case against permanently banning fracking.

Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency
Supporters of fracking say that it is a safe practice that will lower energy costs, boost the domestic economy and lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Critics, however, say fracking is a dangerous practice that contaminates water supplies, as well as causing other environmental hazards.

The latter group points to a combination of energy conservation and energy efficiency efforts as the best answer to the nation’s energy woes, rather than the use of more natural resources. Energy conservation involves using less energy altogether; energy efficiency refers to creating technology that can do the same work with less energy. Convection ovens, for example, cook food about 25% faster in order to use less energy, and the EPA-rated Energy Star appliances and home goods all use far less energy than the average in order to provide the same or better results.

Both conservation and efficiency also cut the greenhouse gas emissions that are a factor in climate change.

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