By Jorge Aguilar
Jorge Aguilar, Southern Region Director
For the second year in a row, the two environmental committees of the Maryland legislature have put politics ahead of leadership on the issue of fracking.
Last Thursday, the last of three bills that would have required the state General Assembly to take a strong position on fracking died an unceremonious death. Both Delegate Maggie McIntosh and Senator Joan Carter Conway, the chairs of the key committees charged with taking up fracking, made it abundantly clear to anyone that would listen (including their own committee members) that they did not believe any fracking bill should move if it wasn’t coming from the Governor.
Senator Conway, for instance, repeated multiple times during the legislative session that she believed her committee should wait for the final study from the Governor’s fracking commission before acting on any fracking legislation. Similarly, the Environmental Matters Committee didn’t have a chance to vote on a fracking wastewater bill, which would have made it illegal for Maryland to treat fracking waste coming from outside state boundaries, because Delegate McIntosh killed it before it had a vote. This bill, widely supported by the environmental community in Maryland, was being cosponsored by 10 out of the 23 members of the committee.
At a time when natural gas prices are starting to trend up, Maryland’s own fracking export facility is moving towards completion, and significant recommendations to prohibit the treatment of fracking wastewater were made in a recent study by the University of Maryland (see Chapter 4 Section J – P), Maryland residents should expect a lot more out of Del. McIntosh and Sen. Conway.
Thankfully, the Baltimore City Council just passed an ordinance that would protect their constituents from the hazards of fracking wastewater, but the rest of the state deserves the protection, too.
The lack of legislative action on fracking in Maryland shows that our elected officials need to be held accountable for leaving us at risk. Each year of delay just brings us one year closer to fracking in Maryland. The only way the oil and gas industry will be stopped is by citizens working to force their elected officials to act. That’s why we are going to redouble our efforts to organize against fracking in Maryland, educating citizens about its hazards and making sure legislators know they can’t let fracking move forward in Maryland.
You can email Senator Conway here, Delegate McIntosh here, and Governor Martin O’Malley here to let them know we don’t want to frack Maryland.