The Maryland General Assembly’s annual session opens today in Annapolis. By far the most important environmental issue that lawmakers will be debating over the next three months is a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
Fracking and horizontal drilling techniques have transformed rural parts of neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia into oil and gas industrial zones over the last decade. But Western Maryland, which has the same gas-rich shale rock formations, has not yet experienced any fracking.
Lawmakers in 2015 passed a two-year moratorium on the high-pressure injection of water and chemicals into shale formations to release natural gas. But that moratorium on fracking will run out in October, and then the drilling could start here in Maryland if state legislators fail to act this winter.