Green activists and the energy industry are both angry about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, regulations proposed Wednesday in Maryland.
Environmentalists claim the new regulations would lead to earthquakes and groundwater contamination while business leaders say they’d still be the toughest in the country. The regulations would allow the state to issue fracking permits in October 2017 and were originally crafted by former governor and Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley.
“The market is going to determine whether or not there’s interest in drilling and fracking” Ben Grumbles, Maryland’s secretary of the environment, told The Baltimore Sun. “With the regulations, what we’re striving for is a balanced and workable approach that will protect the environment and public health … and the standards would be achievable.”
Larry Hogan, Maryland’s Republican governor, says he supports fracking for the jobs and wealth it could bring to the western part of the state. Several counties in western Maryland are on top of the Marcellus shale rock formation, which is the largest reserve of natural gas in America. Even people who own relatively modest amounts of land on the shale formation can make up to $35,000 in royalties a month.
O’Malley and the state’s Democratic-led General Assembly imposed a moratorium on fracking in 2011, citing green concerns about alleged risks of groundwater contamination and increased earthquake activity and supports the rules.
Fracking actually has substantial positive environmental impacts. Fracking, not government green policies, caused carbon dioxide emissions to drop sharply in 47 states and Washington, D.C. in 2015, according to both Scientific American and the Energy Information Administration. Studies show that fracking for natural gas is responsible for almost 20 percent of the drop in carbon dioxide emissions, while solar power is responsible for a mere 1 percent of the decline. For every ton of carbon dioxide cut by solar power, fracking cuts 13 tons.
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