A poll released Monday by Goucher College found that Marylanders are increasingly divided over whether the state should ban hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.
The state’s moratorium on the practice is set to end in October 2017, when the Department of the Environment plans to begin issuing drilling licenses.
Asked two years ago, when the state’s two-year fracking moratorium was taking effect, 52 percent of residents polled said Maryland should ban fracking, and 31 percent opposed a ban.
Now support for a ban has dropped to 43 percent, and more people say they aren’t sure. Meanwhile, opposition to a ban has remained relatively unchanged.
Mileah Kromer, who runs the Goucher Poll and is the director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, said fracking hasn’t been an important policy issue in Maryland because of the moratorium.
“With it set to expire in 2017, there will be an additional push going forward,” she said. “You'll see, I think, an uptick in attention on the issue and then we can actually see how public opinion will settle out in the next couple of months."
The state Department of the Environment is in the process of drafting new fracking regulations, though officials have said they will not meet the legal deadline to release them at the end of this week.
State legislators have also promised to propose a new fracking ban when they return to Annapolis in January.