A bill to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state of Maryland has overwhelmingly passed with a veto-proof majority 97-40 vote.
The bill will now proceed to the state Senate, where it has high hopes of passing as well. Last month a companion bill was introduced in the state Senate and gained the support of 23 co-sponsors – nearly half of the state senators.
Maryland is leading the way in the movement to ban fracking. Only six percent of voters in the state believe there is “no risk” to the practice.
Corporations have been after natural gas in Maryland for years. The state houses the Marcellus Shale formation, the largest known natural gas reservoir in the world, as well as many other smaller natural gas deposits.
But Maryland has fought against introducing fracking into the state. In 2015, the state legislature passed a moratorium against fracking in order to buy time to investigate the potential environmental and health hazards fracking could cause.
Recently, several lawsuits and studies have shown that fracking can contaminate local water sources and trigger earthquakes. The has led states like Maryland to double their efforts to permanently keep fracking out of their state.
Fracking, which is the process of injected large amounts of chemicals and water to break up shale gas underground in order to release fossil fuels, was once thought to produce “clean” fossil fuels. This is because natural gas releases half the carbon dioxide of “dirty” fossil fuels such as coal.
However, when burned, natural gas is made up of 80 percent methane, which is a treehouse gas that traps heat 86 times more effectively than CO2 over a 20-year span, thus contributing to depleting the ozone and global warming. This means that methane leaks completely erase any climate benefits of natural gas.