Bill Would Make Fracking a Crime in Maryland

A bill (HB 1387) introduced into the Maryland legislature last week would make it a crime to engage in hydraulic fracturing — fracking — in the state.

Maryland State Senator Joan Carter Conway

Maryland State Senator
Joan Carter Conway

The corporate crime bill was introduced by a pro-fracking ban member of the House of Delegates — Benjamin Kramer — and  was seen by pro-ban activists as a way to ratchet up the pressure on Senator Joan Carter Conway, chair of the Senate’s Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

Conway’s committee will hold a pivotal hearing February 28 to determine which of two competing fracking bills — or some variation of the two — will make it to the floor of the Senate.

One bill (SB 0740) would ban fracking in Maryland. It was introduced by Senator Robert Zirkin who chairs the Senate Judicial Affairs Committee. The Zirkin bill has 23 total sponsors.

The other bill (SB 0862), introduced by Conway, would impose a moratorium on fracking in the state for two years, after which fracking would be allowed only in those counties that voted for it in a referendum. The Conway bill has 24 total sponsors.

Seven Senators are sponsoring both bills.

The Zirkin forces in the Senate need 29 votes to override an expected veto by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

Conway has close ties to fossil fuel lobbyists in the state and has repeatedly said of legislation banning fracking that “it’s never going to pass the Senate.”

Conway’s moratorium bill has been denounced by the anti-fracking forces in Maryland as way to stall the growing momentum for an outright ban in Maryland.

The Kramer corporate crime bill would prohibit the use of hydraulic fracturing for any purpose and provides that a violation is a misdemeanor and is subject to, for a first conviction, imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding $50,000 and for each subsequent conviction, imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding $100,000.



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