A Republican governor has nixed fracking in Maryland. - Grist


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Reuters / Les Stone

A Republican governor has nixed fracking in Maryland.

On Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan signed a bill that bans hydraulic fracturing in the state.

Maryland follows in the footsteps of New York, which banned fracking through executive order in 2015, and Vermont, which adopted a bill banning fracking in 2012, even though it doesn’t have stores of natural gas or oil.

Maryland currently produces little natural gas. Parts of the state sit atop the Marcellus Shale, a gas-rich rock formation, but because of current low natural gas prices, industry hasn’t been clamoring to tap the state’s reserves lately. For that reason, Drew Cobbs of the pro-fracking Maryland Petroleum Council called the ban mostly symbolic.

Environmentalists, for their part, are seizing on the symbolism of a Republican governor banning fracking. They are now pushing even harder for bans in two fracking-heavy states with Democratic governors, California and Pennsylvania. The Florida legislature is also considering a ban, although the state has limited oil and gas reserves.

Activists in Maryland are now hoping to push Hogan further on other environmental issues, like protection of the Chesapeake Bay. President Trump has proposed cutting more than 90 percent of funding for the federal program to restore the bay, and while Hogan has reportedly brought it up with his state’s congressional delegation, he has stayed mute publicly.