Maryland lawmakers pass two-year fracking ban

Maryland’s Senate passed a bill that would institute a two-year ban on the controversial hydraulic fracturing process.

The 45-2 vote Monday follows a House vote to ban fracking for oil and natural gas for three years and require a study into its health and economic impact, The Baltimore Sun reports.

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Environmentalists, who say fracking can be linked to groundwater contamination and earthquakes, were more pleased with the House bill’s study provision that the Senate bill lacks.

“We are unconvinced that a regulatory approach can protect Maryland, and we are also disappointed the panel to review the available public health studies on fracking was removed from the original bill,” Ann Bristow, spokeswoman for Don’t Frack Maryland, told the Sun.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said he supports fracking in the state but has not taken a position on the moratorium bills.

State Sen. George Edwards (R), the lead opponent of efforts to curb fracking, voted for the Senate bill and said it was a “good first step” toward eventually instituting a proper regulatory environment for fracking. He said it would take two years for a fracker to get a permit anyway.

Edwards’s district in western Maryland would be the most likely to host frackers, owing to its location atop the Marcellus shale formation.