Maryland lawmakers vote to ban fracking

Maryland lawmakers vote to ban fracking
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The Maryland General Assembly has passed a bill to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state, sending the bill to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature. 

Hogan, a Republican, supports the fracking the ban and has promised to sign it, despite opposition from others in the GOP who say drilling could help the economy in western Maryland. 

The state Senate approved the bill on a 35-10 vote on Monday night. The House of Delegates approved the same bill earlier on a 97-40 vote.

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Environmentalists cheered the measure, which they have pushed in the state for more than half a decade. Supporters say it will it help protect public health and move the state toward cleaner energy. 

"Waterkeepers across the region applaud the vote today in the Maryland Senate to ban fracking statewide,” said Betsy Nicholas, executive director of the Waterkeepers Chesapeake group, a member of an anti-fracking coalition in the state. 

“This vote was the result of an incredible grassroots movement across Maryland, and especially in Western Maryland, that demanded the legislature protect their families, livelihoods, and clean water and air from the irreversible damage caused by fracking.”

The drilling industry, which had hoped to tap the state’s portion of the Marcellus Shale basin, said the fracking ban will hurt the Maryland's economy. 

“This politically-motivated decision moves Maryland further away from the state’s economic and environmental goals,” Drew Cobbs, executive director of the Maryland Petroleum Council, said in a statement. 

“Denying Maryland consumers, businesses and job-seekers the benefits that come with in-state energy production through hydraulic fracturing shuts the door on an important share in the American energy renaissance and Western Maryland’s future economic growth.”

Maryland will become the second state in the country to formally block fracking, after New York instituted a similar ban in 2015.