“We must take the next step and move from virtually banning fracking to actually banning fracking,” said Mr. Hogan at a news conference Friday afternoon, where he endorsed legislation to that effect introduced by State Senator Robert Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat.
A moratorium on the process, which is used to extract oil and/or natural gas, is set to expire in October. The House of Delegates had already passed a measure similar to Mr. Zirkin’s bill.
In a press release, the Maryland Petroleum Council expressed their disappointment in the governor’s decision.
“Maryland families and opportunities for job creation have lost out to the whims of a vocal minority – inconsistent with the Governor’s vision to create well-paying jobs in Maryland,” said MPC executive director Drew Cobbs. “This political outcome fails Maryland, whose voters support development of natural gas resources, and the hardworking men and women in Western Maryland who were looking forward to thousands of jobs.”
Environmental watchdog Food and Water Watch hailed Mr. Hogan’s decision, reported WTOP radio, saying it was “thrilled” that the Republican governor had shown “protecting public health and the environment is not a matter of partisanship.”
According to the Maryland Department of the Environment website, parts of Allegany and Garrett counties in the state’s panhandle lie on top of the Marcellus Shale formation, a 262 trillion cubic-foot reserve of natural gas that runs through the Appalachian mountains.
That area of the state is generally more conservative than other parts of reliably blue Maryland and voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Hogan in his 2014 election. But, as The Washington Post reported in February, while Republican state legislators in western Maryland support fracking as a job-creating measure, their constituents are divided on the matter, with opponents concerned with potential negative impacts on the environment and quality of life.
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