By Chesapeake Climate Action Network and CitizenShale, March 20, 2012
ANNAPOLIS – Positioning Maryland to be the first state in America to study the safety of natural gas fracking drilling before approving the practice within state borders, the House of Delegates today passed a landmark bill: HB 1204, the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Fee. The bill requires energy companies to fund studies related to drilling best practices and environmental protection in western Maryland before gas extraction can start.
“The Maryland House did the right thing today in passing this historic bill,” said Delegate Heather Mizeur (D-Mont), the bill’s lead sponsor. “With everything from earthquakes to flammable drinking water connected to fracking for gas in other states, we want to get this right in Maryland. Second chances are very expensive.”
Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas is not yet permitted in Maryland. An executive order from Gov. Martin O’Malley in June 2011 created a 14-member commission to study various safeguards – including the impact of fracking on the environment and climate change. But that commission has no funding to conduct necessary studies. HB 1204 would create a one-year fee of $15 per acre on land already leased in western Maryland for potential fracking activity. The bill would generate at least $1.8 million.
“Hydraulic fracturing, if it goes forward, would bring major industrial activity to virtually every valley in western Maryland,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “HB 1204 will allow us to know beforehand what this unconventional drilling method could mean for our water, our air, and our atmosphere.”
Paul Roberts, a Garrett County wine grower and member of the group CitizenShale, said, “We don’t want to become another Pennsylvania where farms and lives have been ruined by fracking pollution. The Maryland House has shown real leadership today. As a land owner, I’m grateful for that leadership.”
Mike Tidwell, Executive Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 240-460-5838
Moira Moynihan, Office of Del. Heather Mizeur, 301-318-4220
Paul Roberts, Maryland farmer, CitizenShale, 240-580-4008