Md. legislators consider permanent ban on fracking

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WBFF) -- Maryland legislators are debating a bill which would permanently ban hydraulic fracking in the state.

A moratorium on the high-tech method of extracting natural gas from shale in Western Maryland expires this fall.

Members of several environmental groups who gathered for a rally Tuesday at the State House, say there are enough studies to conclude that a permanent ban on fracking is warranted.

Ann Bristol, with the "Don't Frack Maryland Coalition," told the group "We do not need more research to tell us that fracking should be prohibited. Over 80 percent of the health studies show risks or actually harm."

Woody Getz, Commissioner of Public Works for the Western Maryland town of Frostburg, says fracking operations in other states are responsible for earthquakes and is causing pollution to the air and water "whether its ground contamination of public water that may go into public systems, whether its ground contamination of private homes."

Business owners delivered a letter to legislators signed by more than 180 businesses from across the state.

Activists also delivered boxes filled with thousands of petitions and letters signed by citizens supporting ban on fracking. Petitions were collected by Chesapeake Climate Action Network, CREDO Action, Food & Water Watch, Maryland Sierra Club, and other members of the Don't Frack Maryland coalition.

But Senator Andrew Serafini, a Republican who represents Washington County, is challenging claims of environmental damage from fracking.

Serafini says, "I've talked to people in Texas and other states that have been doing this, I've investigated all the facts, there is no fact behind the earthquake issue."

Serafini has suggested that voters in the Western Maryland counties of Alleghany and Garrett decide whether fracking should be legalized in the region.

"A moratorium for a while longer is fine. I think you let those two counties decide, but it shouldn't be for any other parts of the state to tell those people what to do, it won't impact the other parts of the state."

Serafini adds, "It's not ever going to happen in Montgomery County or any other parts of the state and so we're depriving those people in those counties of an economic opportunity and mineral rights."

A hearing on the bill to permanently ban hydraulic fracking was heard Tuesday in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

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