Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on Tuesday signed a bill banning fracking, making his state the third after New York and Vermont to prevent the controversial process of oil and gas extraction.
Hogan, a Republican, said in March that he would back the bill that was passed at the end of that month by both houses of the Democrat-controlled state legislature.
“Because of Maryland’s position in the country and our wealth of natural resources, our administration has concluded that possible environmental risks of fracking outweigh any potential benefits,” Hogan said, according to the Associated Press.
The ban, which goes into effect on Oct. 1 this year, stops any development of the Marcellus Shale, which underlies the western portion of Maryland as well as much of neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The Maryland Petroleum Council, a division of the American Petroleum Institute, condemned the state legislature’s final passage of the bill banning fracking on March 27.
“This politically motivated decision moves Maryland further away from the state’s economic and environmental goals,” said Drew Cobbs, the council’s executive director, in a statement.
“Denying Maryland consumers, businesses and job-seekers the benefits that come with in-state energy production through hydraulic fracturing shuts the door on an important share in the American energy renaissance and Western Maryland’s future economic growth,” Cobbs said.
Opponents of fracking said the Maryland ban was inspired by the harm they said has been caused by the practice in Pennsylvania where thousands of wells have been drilled into the Marcellus Shale over the last decade. The critics urged Governor Tom Wolf to also ban fracking.
“Maryland’s governor has proactively stopped fracking before it could ruin the state’s water, air and communities,” said Tracy Carluccio of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, an environmental group. “Here in Pennsylvania, we have living proof of the indelible damage that fracking brings and yet Governor Wolf won’t even acknowledge what is occurring.
“We call on Governor Wolf to listen to his neighboring states of Maryland and New York and stop fracking,” Carluccio said.
Wolf’s spokesman, J.J. Abbott, said the governor believes he can protect the environment and create jobs by developing natural gas reserves.
“He is focused on what he can control: ensuring smart, comprehensive environmental protection and enhancing technology and capacity for regulation,” Abbott said in a statement. “Under his leadership, DEP has pursued aggressive and important regulations on fracking and methane.”