Fracking in Maryland

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Fracking in Maryland


The nationwide debate about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is now coming to the forefront in Maryland.  Fracking is a process for extracting natural gas that involves drilling into Marcellus shale rock and then pumping water and chemicals inside to release the gas. Western Maryland is home to a large reserve of Marcellus Shale, but as of yet, it has not been exploited for its natural gas. In October 2017, the state’s two year moratorium on fracking is set to expire, so proponents and adversaries of the process are advocating for new legislature.

Those who support fracking, including Gov. Larry Hogan, argue that instituting the practice will boost Western Maryland’s economy. Delegate Wendell Beitzel, perhaps the strongest supporter, argues that “…just the leases alone would be a big infusion of cash into landowners and farmers”.

Opponents refute Beitzel’s remarks, and argue that fracking would be detrimental to the economy.  Western Maryland’s economy right now is based on tourism at parks such as Deep Creek Lake, but Steve Green of High Mountain Sports argues that fracking would hurt tourism because, “When you go on vacation, you don’t want to be in a heavy industrialized zone”. In addition, while adversaries acknowledge that fracking will create jobs, they point out that these jobs are temporary and are often taken by out of state workers.  In addition to economic issues, Western Maryland residents have raised concerns about water contamination and general health.  Exposure to some of the chemicals used in fracking has been linked to birth defects, asthma, cancer, and problems with the nervous system.  

Maryland residents have not been shy about standing up for what they believe in: three towns have already banned fracking permanently and over 35,000 petitions and letters have been written protesting the possible implementation.  While it seems a permanent bans is unlikely with the support of the governor and many Republicans in congress, it is likely that the moratorium will be renewed this coming fall.  


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