Annapolis, MD – Over Memorial Day weekend, Governor Hogan announced that he would not veto the bill (HB 449/SB409) and will allow it to pass into law without his signature. This past legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly passed the bill with veto-proof majorities (60%) in each house. The Maryland House of Delegates passed the bill 103-33 and it passed 45-2 in the Senate.
“I am relieved and delighted that Governor Hogan will allow mine and Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo’s bill for a 2 year moratorium on fracking to become law without his signature,” said Senator Karen Montgomery, the bill’s Senate sponsor. “Now we have two years to continue to compile indisputable scientific data. “
“Governor Hogan neither signed nor vetoed the bill, so it becomes law, said Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo, the bill’s House sponsor. “We would have liked the moratorium to span 8 years according to the original bill to allot more time for public health and scientific study of the industry, but we are satisfied that no fracking will take place in Maryland before October 2017. This is a significant accomplishment for the state and one that we believe all counties and localities in Maryland will benefit.”
The Don’t Frack Maryland Campaign has worked across the state in support of this moratorium and brought together a broad coalition of Marylanders from health professionals, business owners, farmers, families and residents from across the state. Over 100 groups came together and organized to collect and deliver letters to the Governor and the Maryland Legislature in support of the moratorium. The group backed an ad recorded by actor and Maryland native, Edward Norton, targeting the Governor to sign the bill. The Baltimore Sun even editorialized in favor of the moratorium, calling it “the kind of compromise that … Gov. Larry Hogan ought to embrace.”
“The movement behind this moratorium was unyielding,” said Mitch Jones, Common Resources Director for Food & Water Watch. “Passing a moratorium under a pro-fracking Governor is a testament to the effectiveness that organizing can have. As more and more scientific studies show the health and environmental problems with fracking, more and more Marylanders oppose the practice. When we are used to seeing moneyed interests rule, it is encouraging to see elected officials heed the will of the people to protect their communities.“
“Governor Hogan is rightly following the will of the public in allowing Maryland’s first statutory moratorium on fracking to become law,” said Shilpa Joshi, Maryland campaign coordinator at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “This victory belongs to the citizens from Mountain Maryland to the Eastern Shore who have fought for years to protect our air, water, economy, and climate from the gas industry. The grassroots movement that flooded Governor Hogan’s office and the General Assembly with emails and calls this spring will only grow and get louder over the next two years to ensure our communities remain protected.”
Rebecca Ruggles, Director of the Maryland Environmental Health Network said, “In the short time since the legislature passed this bill, we have already seen new health threats being documented. There is a new University of Maryland study published which raises questions about Maryland air pollution from fracking in other states, a new review of the risks to communities, and a study looking at impacts on vulnerable populations. We really need at least 30 months to monitor and assess this flow of health studies and analyses.”
“This moratorium will give us time to assess the constant flow of new studies about the health, economic and societal effects of fracking before it comes to our home,” said Dr. Ann Bristow, a commissioner who served on Governor O’Malley’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission. “Proactive and preventive action through community-based education and citizen engagement is necessary in policy decisions that will effect people’s health. Hitting the pause button on fracking is the most responsible and ethical way for public health and safety policy to move forward.”
“For the growing numbers of western Maryland residents and business owners who live in fear that fracking will ruin our communities, natural resources, property values and thriving tourism economy, this moratorium is a relief,” said Nadine Grabania of Citizen Shale and owner of Deep Creek Cellars. We now have two years to explore fracking’s threats to public health and safety and potential to drive away visitors, homeowners, and businesses, who, for over a century have vacationed and invested in our mountains for reasons that a vast majority of Marylanders hold dear.”
“Clean Water Action is pleased that HB 449 and SB 409 have become law,” said Andy Galli, Clean Water Action’s Maryland Program Coordinator. “However we were hoping that the Governor would affirm his commitment to protecting Maryland and its citizens from the many dangers of fracking by signing the law, which was passed by both houses with a large bi-partisan majority. Clean Water believes that in two years many more accounts of the health impacts, water pollution, environmental degradation as well as violations and legal cases, will cause the Legislature and Administration to reach the conclusion at the end of that time that the only future path regarding fracking in Maryland is the one taken by New York.”
Background: More than 100 groups came together and worked tirelessly to empower Marylanders to form the Don’t Frack Maryland Campaign and fight for a long-term moratorium on fracking. This Don’t Frack Maryland campaign brought together more than 100 Western Maryland business owners and has also sent over 25,000 messages to legislators supporting a moratorium. Letters signed by more than 100 health professionals, and more than 50 restaurant owners, chefs, winemakers and farmers from across the state were also delivered to the legislature. Even actor and Maryland native Edward Norton helped the effort, providing a radio ad appealing to the Governor to sign the bill. Two commissioners of the “Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative,” released a letter in January outlining the commission’s study did not incorporate a great deal of the recently-released studies exploring the health effects of fracking.
Contact: Ryanne Waters, (202) 683-4925, rwaters[at]fwwatch[dot]org